loving your leftovers: part one

A Pear to Remember is about making delicious use of your food, whether potato or frozen chicken breast. Part of becoming comfortable with cooking means throwing less food away. Finding creative uses for leftovers is utterly satisfying.

I know inventing and improvising can be daunting—but that’s why you have this and other resourceful blogs for inspiration. I read cookbooks like it’s nobody’s business, and on the days my mental file falls through, typing on-hand ingredients into [my favorite search engine] offers exciting menu alternatives.

About to leave for a weekend with a big bag of handsome spinach (from this citrus salad) to rot in the fridge? No way. I wanted a way to freeze the spinach, and wasn’t about to get other ingredients from the store to make some complicated freezer casserole. Who has the time?

A thought: spinach pesto! Does that exist? I just typed it into [search engine] and sure enough others have made it. You know I love arugula pesto like it’s going out of style. Here’s a new green sauce for variety.

Spinach Pesto

a Linvention, sort of

a bag of spinach leaves (at least more than half), rinsed and dry

1/4 cup whole nuts (almond, walnuts, hazlenuts, etc.)

1/4 cup grated parmesan

olive oil

1 clove garlic (optional)

Toast the nuts in a dry skillet until golden and fragrant—just shake the pan a few times to brown evenly. Into a food processor, add the nuts and garlic (I used 3 cloves, which was overkill; 1 may be perfect) and pulse until ground. Add the spinach and pulse to chop, followed by the parmesan. With the machine on, add a stream of olive oil until you have a sauce to your consistency.

Pesto recipes often call for incredible amounts of olive oil, but I always hold back a bit, because you will store it with an oil layer on top—stirred into the sauce for serving later.

Taste and season with salt and pepper as you like. Consider red chili flakes for something extra exciting.

To store and freeze, I’ve read about using ice cube trays for defrosting individual portions. I use mini food storage containers, add the pesto a little more than halfway and pour a thin layer of olive oil over top. They freeze and thaw wonderfully for about three months. I often pull my pesto out of the fridge in the morning, zap it in the microwave for just 10 seconds, stir, and have a perfect spread for my afternoon sandwich.

Spinach pesto doesn’t have a strong spinach flavor, but it does make for a new pesto experience. And it comes together in under 10 minutes. For further pesto-making tips and ideas: click here and here, and definately check out my creamy corn pesto.

Return soon for Loving Your Leftovers: Part Two, where I’m grilling some unexpected things…

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6 Comments

Filed under budget, dessert, health, lickety-quick, the basics

6 responses to “loving your leftovers: part one

  1. Jen

    love love love. I’m always looking for a way to use my leftovers! I hope you post something on what to do with leftover chicken!

  2. Alice

    Sounds wonderful! Now all I need is a food processor, so I can make all this delicious pesto. Question:did Andrew eat it?

    • i didn’t use it for any dinners this, only my lunch a few times. If we use it for pasta or as a dip, he’s content with any of my pestos—thank goodness : D

  3. A delicious use for leftovers! Pestos are not only delicious, but they save so wonderfully. Love it!

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