Simple Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto

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Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto – a simple recipe made quickly with fresh spinach, toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan.  Delicious tossed with pasta or over grilled chicken.

Simple Spinach Pesto

“Simple is often best”.

It’s a phrase I grew up hearing from my Aunt Genevieve.  Aunt Gen, as she was affectionately called, was my dad’s aunt.  His mother’s sister.  Aunt Gen came to live with my family when I was about 10 years old.  She was an amazing woman who lived an extraordinary life.  She was braver than just about any other woman I’ve ever known.  Aunt Gen left home with her mother at the age of 16 to dance on Broadway.  She had a dream and a desire to be on the stage and nothing was going to stop her.

After only a week in New York, Aunt Gen landed a role as a Rockette.  She went on to perform in various Broadway shows and eventually taught dance in Los Angeles in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Genevieve McAuliffe

Aunt Gen really was an amazing woman and she arrived in my life at the perfect time.  As an awkward pre-teen, I had no grace, hardly any poise and very little confidence.  Aunt Gen took me under her watchful wing determined that I would be all that she knew I could be.

I look back on my days growing up and am so thankful was a part of my life.  She knew what I needed to develop into a poised and confident young woman and she encouraged my parents to push me into activities that would help me to grow in those areas.  Aunt Gen was brutally honest with me and called things like she saw them.  She was critical but in a very loving way.  I know her influence has molded me into who I am today.

I have so many stories I could tell you about the lessons Aunt Gen taught me and this particular story is one I’ll never forget.  As a young girl, I remember going into a Neiman Marcus department store with Aunt Gen to do a little clothes shopping.  She walked into the ladies clothing department and picked up a classic black blazer by a designer whose name I can’t remember.  I do remember, however, that the price of the blazer was more than five blazers my mother would have bought.  When I pointed that fact out to Aunt Gen, hoping to save her from spending too much money, she spoke to me about the quality of that particular blazer.  She had me touch the fabric and feel the lining.  She showed me the stitching and pointed out the unique details of the blazer.  She assured me that the sale price was a very good one and it was a garment that was going to last.  You know what, that blazer has lasted.  In fact, it’s on a hanger in my closet still as classic and elegant as the day Aunt Gen purchased it – it has never gone out of style, even after 30+ years.

This is one of the many lessons from Aunt Gen that have remained with me.  Although I’m not a “label shopper” and I don’t exclusively shop the designer racks, I do love a good bargain.  Good quality + great price = happy day!!

Aunt Gen wore mainly black.  She felt it was slimming and classic and would accessorize with a bright scarf or jeweled broach.  She loved her black beret from where shocking red curls would fall along her cheek and she wore it often.   Her motto was always, “dress simply, simple is best”.

I don’t know why Aunt Gen has been on my mind lately, but when I recently made this simple spinach and pine nut pesto the other night and thought about how simple and delicious this recipe was, her words came right back to me, “simple is best”.

And you know, it’s really true, not just in clothing choices but often in classic recipes too.

Spinach Pesto makes a great burger topping | ZagLeft

Pesto is one of those foods that can really pack a flavor-punch.  It’s made with simple, pure ingredients in just a matter of minutes.  For my simple spinach pesto I use fresh spinach, garlic, olive oil, toasted pine nuts and splash of lemon juice and parmesan cheese.   It’s so full of flavor and smells amazing as it comes together!

Pesto is great when tossed with pasta, spread on sandwiches, used as a topping for a burger or grilled chicken or even as a dip with a chip.  Seriously endless possibilities.

Spinach Pesto |

Keeping it simple, and remembering that “simple is often best”.

Simple Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto

Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto - a simple recipe made quickly with fresh spinach, toasted pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan. Delicious tossed with pasta or over grilled chicken.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time3 mins


  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • salt


  • Combine the spinach, pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil, blending until the mixture is creamy.
  • Add the parmesan and pulse.
  • Season with salt to taste.


To toast pine nuts in a skillet: Heat a pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the pine nuts to the pan and heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate to cool.

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7 thoughts on “Simple Spinach and Pine Nut Pesto”

  1. I just made this and it tasted so yummy. I added a bit more spinach and lemon juice too. Perfect even without any salt. Very filling too. Thanks for this quick and easy recipe!

  2. this sounds great – I love pesto! simple is often best, I so SO believe that! thank you for sharing your Aunt Gem, sounds truly inspirational!

  3. Sharon @ What The Fork Food Blog

    I love pesto with spinach, it’s such a nice flavor and more mild than basil 🙂

    1. I love it too, Sharon. Plus I almost always have spinach in my refrigerator. Thanks for reading.

  4. Jen @ Baked by an Introvert

    I just made a pesto pasta the other night. I used a basil pesto but I bet this spinach pesto would have been delicious. I see another pasta night in my near future!

    1. I love basil pesto too, Jen. Pesto is just so easy to make and all variations taste so good – I can never have it too often! 🙂

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