April 11, 2012

Spinach-Walnut Pesto Cream Cheese Spread

Several years ago in Italy I was sitting at a quaint little restaurant with an amazing bowl of basil pesto pasta in front of me. I had never had traditional pesto and was smiling ear to ear when I took the first bite. Needless to say I ate the entire bowl of pasta. Unfortunately, I realized later that I am miserably allergic to basil. Since I loved the dish so much I knew I had to find a way to satisfy my craving for that bowl of pesto!

Instead of basil I use spinach and substitute walnuts for pine nuts to make this pesto. I serve this dish often for my family because spinach and walnuts pack a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. I always have leftover pesto (after we serve it with pasta) and mixed with cream cheese it makes for a delicious morning breakfast treat.

**If you can have orange juice drink a glass with your pesto spread so it's easier for your body to absorb the iron from the spinach!

Spinach-Walnut Pesto Cream Cheese Spread
4 c. Fresh Spinach
1/2 c. Walnut halves or pieces
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 c. Parmesan Cheese finely shredded
Olive Oil approximately 1/4 cup
Salt to taste
4 oz Cream Cheese
Bagel, toast, or bread

In a food processor add spinach, walnuts, garlic (I always give the garlic clove a rough chop before adding so someone doesn't get a large bite of raw garlic!), and parmesan and pulse until walnuts are roughly chopped. I also like using a microplane for the parmesan cheese to get it really finely shredded but you can use a box grater too.

Turn food processor on and stream in olive oil until pesto comes together to form a paste like consistency. Add salt to taste. Makes approximately one cup of pesto.

In a small bowl combine 4 oz cream cheese and 1/4 cup of pesto and mix well. Spread pesto cream cheese on your favorite bagel, toast or bread.

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