Most of us are familiar with traditional pesto, made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic, in its simplest expression. But registered dietician Kristen Carli of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness has created a new take on pesto that will change up your dinner game forever. As the name of her recipe suggests, her pesto substitutes mint and spinach for basil, and instead of pine nuts, almonds are blended into this thick and tasty pasta sauce.
"It’s very fresh and bright," Carli told us, discussing how this pesto differs from that which you may have tried before. But one thing that doesn’t change about the mint version of this versatile recipe? How simple it is to make, with Carli noting, "It is fairly easy and quick!" In fact, she said, "I love this with pasta for weeknight dinners." If pasta has been in your dinner rotation a few too many times lately, try this vibrant green topping on bread, rice, pizza, or atop your favorite bowl of soup.
Grab a few basic ingredients
Mint almond pesto is a recipe that comes together with a few basic ingredients that you may already have on hand. So, simply gather the items from your kitchen cupboards or fridge, including mint leaves, spinach, whole almonds — go with unsalted, since you will be adding salt to this recipe — as well as grated Parmesan cheese, your favorite olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
We wondered why Carli chose almonds to complement her mint pasta topping, and she told us, "Almonds are great for pesto because they are very nutty and earthy." She added, "They pair great with fruity and fresh flavors like mint."
As for why Carli incorporates more greens into her dish, she told us, "I add spinach for an extra bright green color."
Once you have your ingredients assembled, you are almost done making your almond mint pesto — that’s how easy it is to take this recipe from your mind to a meal.
Combine your ingredients
If you plan to eat pasta with your pesto, the first step would be to boil water and make the main element of this meal. While your pasta is cooking — may we suggest also prepping some garlic bread and salad as sides? — you will add all of your ingredients for the almond mint pesto into a food processor. So, in goes the mint leaves, spinach, grated cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, the garlic, which you will have minced, and the salt and pepper.
Yup, everything can get heaped into the food processor all at once. And then, call the family or your dinner guests into the kitchen, because that is how soon the meal will make it to the table, with only one step left until this pesto is ready to top your pasta, pizza, rice, or soup, and impress whoever it is that is eating with you tonight.
Blend everything together
Carli instructs home cooks to simply process the entire lot of almond mint pesto ingredients until the mixture is nice and smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl of the food processor with a spatula to be sure everything is well incorporated, and then blend the pesto again before it is completely ready.
And, that’s it! Of course, you can quickly taste the pesto before serving to see if you feel it needs a hint more lemon juice or garlic, or perhaps salt or pepper. But now that you see how quick and easy it is to make this fun take on a traditional topping, you can keep the needed ingredients on hand for any night when a dinner plan is evading you, or unexpected guests show up and you want to wow them with a yummy meal in minutes.
- ½ cup mint leaves
- ½ cup spinach
- ¼ cup whole almonds, unsalted
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- In a food processor, add all ingredients.
- Process on high until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Serve with pasta.