So you stocked up on leafy greens with the best intentions of making a “dinner salad.” Fast forward to a week later, and let’s just say that salad isn’t making itself, friend. Might we propose an alternative plan? One that involves pasta and the easiest sauce you’ve ever made? Meet any-green pesto, which is more of a blueprint than a recipe, but no less delicious.
The key to this pesto is that it’s 100 percent adaptable to what’s already in your kitchen. For the greens, we used a combination of spinach and arugula, but any soft herb or tender leaves will work—basil, parsley, cilantro, watercress, heck, even frozen peas. (Truly, anything green goes.) The nuts are just as flexible, with the only nonnegotiable being that you toast them. Add some Parm (or pecorino), olive oil and lemon juice, and the only thing you need is a vehicle for eating…also known as pasta.
¾ cup toasted nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, pine nuts or pistachios)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled
Juice of ½ lemon
5 cups mixed soft greens (such as arugula, spinach, basil, parsley or any combination)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pasta, flaky salt and crushed red pepper flakes, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts evenly on an unlined baking sheet. When the oven is hot, transfer the nuts to the oven and toast until golden and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. (We highly recommend setting a timer for this.) Transfer the toasted nuts to a bowl to cool slightly.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the toasted nuts, Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice and pulse into a coarse paste.
2. Add the greens and pulse until finely ground, then, with the food processor running, stream in the olive oil until the pesto is mostly smooth with a few flecks, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the consistency is too thick, thin by streaming in 1 or 2 tablespoons water.
3. To serve on pasta, place a few tablespoons pesto in a large bowl along with 3 cups cooked pasta (from about 4 ounces dried pasta) and a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Toss until the pasta is evenly coated and the sauce clings to the noodles. Divide between two bowls and serve with extra Parmesan, flaky salt and crushed red pepper flakes.
Note: This pesto also makes a delicious topping or sauce for pizza, eggs, toast and just about anything else you can think of.
Per ¼-cup serving: