I hate to admit it, but I'm the type of person that will occasionally leave packets of herbs in the back of the fridge to meet a slow and gruesome death ... and mint is my most repeated victim. Now, I like mint, but I don't looooooooooove it and it only takes one instance of a mint leaf sucked up a mojito straw to realize it is not a tame creature. It will take over your garden and overcome your palate with no regard to your affinities. So when I received a GIANT bag of mint (we're talking over 4 cups worth) for my latest CSA pick up, I was determined to utilize it.
And like it.
I needed to make something that ... well ... required a lot of mint. Not a few cocktails here and there or sprinkled in a dish or salad. It needed to be the key player, the hero of the recipe. Enter: pesto. I'm a huge fan of using unconventional greens in this sauce, since traditionally it calls for a LOT of basil, which isn't the most economical ingredient for your wallet.
Now, I had a dilemma. How do I create a mint-based pesto that doesn't hit you over the head with its mint-ness. I wandered down the produce aisle searching for the answer. Basil was a clear no-go, arugula too peppery, and I had already used carrot tops in another recipe. And there it was. Spinach.
Baby spinach cuts the strong mint notes without competing with the flavor. It's like a friend that gently and quietly ushers you off stage during a drunken night of karaoke. The result is a pleasant, yet flavor packed pesto that is great on pasta, eggs, crackers, carrots ... anything really. The mint is there, but its a pleasant eddying of flavor, as opposed to steam roller.
Paleo Mint Pesto Recipe
The only thing that keeps traditional pesto from being in the paleo category is the parmesan cheese so this recipe nixes it all together without loosing out on any flavor. This recipe yields 1.5 cups.
2c mint leaves, washed & dried
2c baby spinach
2T lemon juice
4 garlic cloves
2/3 cup avocado oil
Add mint, spinach, walnuts, lemon garlic pepper and salt to food processor and process until everything is broken down into small pieces.
With food processor running, slowly pour in oil until fully incorporated. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 2 weeks.