Many is the fridge with a load-bearing bag of spinach in it quietly withering, but the weird thing with those bags of spinach is that no matter how many handfuls you pull out, the remaining spinach exhales and expands and fills the blank space left in the bag. So while this pesto recipe is a good use for said spinach, it’s not the greatest use, because despite two packed cups full of leaves going into it from said bag, I couldn’t seem to make a dent in the contents thereof. But it is a use. Pesto is one of the most straightforwardly delicious foodstuffs on the planet, I could easily wade into a bowl full of it every morning with gladness in my heart; adding a ton of spinach to it is a decent way of bulking it out without compromising on its flavour.
As with the Drunken Noodles of my last blog post, this pesto was something I made for Kate and myself while I stayed at her house during a visit to Wellington. Here I used it to coat some gnocchi which was a wonderful combination – the tender and pillowy pasta against the granular, bright green taste of the sauce. The spartan flavour of the spinach somehow dissolves into the basil, giving you an abundance of pesto with a mellow, nutty richness from the tahini, pine nuts and olive oil.
The secret ingredient is a large pinch of MSG, which I procured a bag of for about $2 and which was absolutely the star of the piece, giving the pesto an almost pop-rocks zing and genuine mouthwatering quality. I’ve been licking my finger and sticking it into the bag of MSG ever since just to feel that delicious head rush of the suggestion of flavour. You might be labouring under the misapprehension that MSG is bad for you, in fact it’s entirely harmless and makes everything taste heightened and delicious – normally I would have poured buckets of salt into the pesto to bring it to life, but with the 3D-glasses effect of the MSG I didn’t have to add any at all, presumably that’s a slightly healthier way to proceed or something.
A recipe by myself
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 2 cups (tightly packed) spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG, or to taste (optional but ideal)
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt, to taste
Toast the pine nuts in a pan over a medium heat for about five minutes or until they’re lightly browned. Remove from the pan to a bowl, or straight into the food processor, and let them cool slightly.
Blend the pine nuts along with all the remaining ingredients in a food processor, scraping down the sides occasionally with a spatula, until it forms a uniform puree. Taste to see if it needs any more of anything – oil, MSG, garlic – and then stir into cooked pasta or do whatever you like with it.
(The “g” in MSG stands for “Ghost The Dog.”)
If like me, you have been obsessed with pesto since forever, may I suggest some other recipes of mine like this dramatically extravagant three-nut pesto or this recipe for green beans in green sauce.
title from: All Alone by Gorillaz, this has a kind of first person shooter video game quality to it that I like.
Let’s Get Hurt by Teengenerate. My friend put me onto this early 90s Japanese punk band, and I love them. This song is crunchier than sand in your teeth and twice as truculent.
I Have Walked This Body by Jenny Hval and Susanna, it’s kind of droning and fuzzy and piercing and slow-moving and full of dread and wonderful.
Also: This mashup of Britney Spears’ Toxic and Deftones’ Change (In The House of Flies) is genuinely quite magical.
Next time: MSG in everything! Also, my Wellington excesses have made me come down with some kind of sore throat/blocked nose ailment so possibly looking at a week of broth or something equally palliative.
PS: if you enjoy my writing and would like to support me directly, you can do so by joining my Patreon. It’s like a cordoned-off VIP area where you can access content written just for you: recipes, updates, the opening sentences of the novel I wrote.
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