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Spinach Walnut Pesto

Spinach walnut pesto is the perfect addition to pasta, soup, pizza or your favorite roasted veggies! This healthy, vibrant pesto is full of flavor and so simple to make! Dairy free, vegan, Whole30 and low carb, this pesto is going to become your new favorite way to add flavor to any dish!

Spoonful of spinach walnut pesto being lifted from the bowl.

Why you will love this recipe

  • This spinach walnut pesto has everything you love about regular pesto (bright, lemony, creamy) but also has added veggies from the spinach! This pesto will increase your veggie intake with you even knowing it!
  • Spinach walnut pesto is naturally dairy free and it’s less expensive than most pesto recipes, because the pine nuts are replaced with walnuts! Trust me, you are going to love this swap!
  • Make any meal feel fancy with a little pesto on top! This spinach walnut pesto is great on shredded chicken, pasta, roasted veggies, sandwiches, wraps, on eggs or eaten straight out of the jar on raw veggies or bread.
  • This flavorful sauce is ready in just 5 minutes and it can easily take a meal from boring to exciting with just a few key ingredients!
  • Spinach walnut pesto is naturally gluten free, dairy free, vegan, paleo, Whole30 and keto friendly! Everyone is going to love this sauce!
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Ingredients:

  • Fresh basil
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts
  • Water
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Baby spinach

Instructions:

Step 1: Add basil leaves (no stems), lemon juice, olive oil to the food processor and blend about 30 seconds to break down leaves.

Step 2: Add the walnuts, 1 tbsp. water, garlic powder (or fresh garlic) and salt. Blend well, about 30 seconds.

Step 3: Add spinach (in batches) and blend well, about 1-2 minutes total. Scrape down edges of food processor if needed.

Step 4: Add additional water to thin out pesto if needed.

Steps on how to make spinach walnut pesto
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Top tips:

You need a food processor to make this spinach walnut pesto. We add a ton of spinach to this pesto, so you are going to want to make sure you have a powerful food processor to break it down so it’s not noticeable in the final recipe!

To make this pesto, it will be necessary to blend the ingredients in batches to ensure that everything gets finely chopped and well incorporated. If you blend everything together at once it can be hard to get the right texture.

  • First blend together the basil with the lemon juice and olive oil and spices/salt.
  • Next, add the walnuts and blend well.
  • At the very end, you will add the spinach leaves and water.

Note: Don’t be afraid to add a little water to the mix. This helps create the final texture you want! How much water you add will depend on if you want really thick pesto (for dipping or adding to pasta that is still a little watery), or thinner pesto for spreading on sandwiches, wraps, pouring over veggies.

Tips on buying basil for pesto:

Buying basil at the store can be tough. It’s important to take a minute and inspect the carton. Once basil starts to go bad in the container (you will notice some black leaves), it will quickly take over the entire container, leaving you with $3 worth of trash once you get home.

Don’t store your basil in the fridge. Basil is best left at room temperatures. It’s important when you are packing your grocery bag not to put the basil on top of anything frozen as this will start to ruin the basil leaves.

Basil is very temperamental. We keep our house at around 64-65 in the winter and in the 70’s in the summer. Basil almost never lasts more than 2 days in our house before it starts to go black and slimy. This is why I would encourage you to use the basil you buy from the store within 2 days of purchase just to be safe!

If you need basil to last longer, my grocery store almost always has living basil – which is basil that is in its own little planter. This is a great option if you need it to stay alive for a few days!  

Large bowl of spinach walnut pesto with lemons and basil around bowl.

What to serve with pesto:

Storage:

Fridge: Once the pesto is made, it lasts about a week in the fridge. However, you may notice that after day 4-5 that the color starts to become less vibrant.

Freezer: Freezing leftover pesto is a great way to preserve it for months.
I recommend that you freeze the pesto in silicone ice cubes to make it easy to portion out. However, you may notice that the texture is not exactly the same when defrosted. This is best if you are using the pesto to flavor soups or mixing into a dish.

Frozen pesto will last about 2 months in the freezer. To defrost, simply store in the fridge or allow to defrost at room temperature.

Substitutions:

  • Spinach: you can also use arugula or kale in place of the spinach. However these greens are typically more bitter than spinach so you may need more lemon juice or salt to offset the bitterness of these greens.
  • Lemon juice: If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, you can also try this with about 2-3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. The flavor will not be exact but it will be close!
  • Basil: basil is what really brings the vibrant, zesty flavor to the pesto. However you could take this in a different direction by using Italian parsley or omitting the basil completely.
  • Walnuts: If you don’t have walnuts on hand, you can also use:
    • Almonds,
    • Cashews
    • Hazelnuts
    • Hemp hearts
    • Pumpkin seeds or
    • Sunflower seeds
  • Garlic powder: I use garlic powder because I find that raw garlic can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to pesto, but some people love that kick from raw garlic. If you would rather use raw garlic, you will need about 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped.
    • If you cannot have garlic, I would recommend that you use roasted garlic olive oil in place of the olive oil to give it some garlic flavor without the garlic.
Hand holding a spoon dipping into the bowl of spinach pesto.

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Large spoonful of spinach walnut pesto over a bowl.

Spinach Walnut Pesto

Spinach walnut pesto is a simple, healthy, vibrant sauce that is so easy to make! Perfect for pasta, zoodles, pizza, wraps or dipping your favorite veggies, you are going to love how much flavor this recipe adds to any dish! Naturally gluten free, dairy free, low carb, paleo, Whole30 and keto friendly!
4 from 1 vote
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: spinach walnut pesto, vegan spinach pesto, walnut pesto vegan
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a food processor, combine the basil, lemon juice and olive oil. Process about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add the walnuts, salt, garlic powder, and 1 tbsp. water to the food processor and process on high until smooth (1-2 minutes).
  • Add the spinach to the food processor (in batches if necessary) and blend until smooth.
  • Add additional water depending on how thick you want your pesto, 1/2-1 tablespoon at a time.

Notes

Storage:
  • Store in sealed glass container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Note: color will start to darken after 3-4 days. 
  • To freeze pesto for later: Freeze in silicone ice cube tray until solid. Once solid, remove from tray and store in a freezer safe silicone bag or freezer bag for up to 2 months.
Substitutions:
  • Spinach: you can also use arugula or kale in place of the spinach. However these greens are typically more bitter than spinach so you may need more lemon juice or salt to offset the bitterness of these greens.
  • Lemon juice: If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, you can also try this with about 2-3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. The flavor will not be exact but it will be close!
  • Basil: basil is what really brings the vibrant, zesty flavor to the pesto. However you could take this in a different direction by using Italian parsley or omitting the basil completely.
  • Walnuts: If you don’t have walnuts on hand, you can also use:
    • Almonds,
    • Cashews
    • Hazelnuts
    • Hemp hearts
    • Pumpkin seeds or
    • Sunflower seeds
  • Garlic powder: I use garlic powder because I find that raw garlic can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to pesto, but some people love that kick from raw garlic. If you would rather use raw garlic, you will need about 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped.
    • If you cannot have garlic, I would recommend that you use roasted garlic olive oil in place of the olive oil to give it some garlic flavor without the garlic.
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
122
Fat
 
12
g
Carbohydrates
 
4
g
Fiber
 
2
g
Sugar
 
1
g
Protein
 
2
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?Let others know by rating and leaving a comment below!

Recipe Rating




Theresa @DearCreatives

Thursday 25th of June 2015

I'll have to try this recipe sometime. My favorite is with the traditional basil. Thanks for sharing at the Inspiration Spotlight party! Pinned, tweeted & scheduled on my FB page. Hope to see you again soon!

Sam

Thursday 21st of June 2018

You really can't go wrong with traditional basil!

Valerie

Monday 15th of June 2015

I love pesto and I have tried several different ways of making it. My favorite way is with spinach, but I think it would taste pretty awesome with kale as well.

Sam

Thursday 21st of June 2018

Oh I do love spinach because it lets the basil shine through!

Sarah R.

Monday 15th of June 2015

Oh my gosh, I SO need to make some pesto- my basil plant is going NUTS right now!! And I love the idea of adding spinach to it!! Hurray for bringing awesome posts to Snickerdoodle Sunday- so glad you linked up this weekend!

Sarah (Sadie Seasongoods)

Georgie Morley

Thursday 5th of March 2015

I put pesto on pretty much everything! It's so good. I love adding different greens but the basil is a necessity. I never thought to add hemp hearts though! They're a new favorite around these parts.

Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner

Thursday 26th of February 2015

Ok you know I am all over this! What a great healthy way to make pesto I can't wait to try this. As you know, traditional pesto is so caloric! Excited about this!

Sam

Thursday 26th of February 2015

Deborah, yes it really is! I'm glad you are excited. Spinach is always the answer lol!! Great pumpkin recipe yesterday by the way!