Sun-dried tomato and spinach pesto in a bowl aside bread.

Earlier this week, while flipping through Danielle Kartes’s new book, Rustic Joyful Food: My Heart’s Table, I spotted a recipe I hoped might put to use the half jar of sun-dried tomatoesΒ sitting in my fridge.

The recipe was for a pesto, something Danielle says she smears over “bread or fish or uses as an accompaniment to Brie and cured olives.” It called for many of the usual pesto players: garlic, nuts, parmesan, olive oil, and fresh lemon.

But what struck me about the recipe was the absence of herbs. In their place, Danielle uses spinach. How interesting? I thought. A winter pesto made with pantry ingredients and easy-to-find, low-maintenance spinachβ€”how nice?

I made the pesto that evening as well as some focaccia crostini to serve alongside. Friends, it was irresistible. I had a hard time not polishing off the entire bowl.

I had made the pesto with the intention of clearing out the fridge, but several days later, I found myself opening a new jar of sun-dried tomatoes to make another batch of pesto. Twice this week, between running around getting the kids to hockey practice and trying to prepare for the holidays, this pesto crostini aside soft-boiled eggs or various leftovers scrounged from the fridge became dinner.

I’m not suggesting you make pesto for dinner, but I do think you should make this sometime soon β€” it’s perfect for holiday entertaining as it takes no time to blitz together. Serve it with crackersΒ  or crostini (directions below), or as part of any spread of holiday appetizers you may find yourself assembling in the weeks to come.

PS: 19 Festive Appetizers

PPS: How to Assemble a Cheese Board

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.
A food processor with the ingredients to make sun-dried tomato pesto.

Heap them all, with the exception of the olive oil, into a food processor.
An overhead shot of a food processor holding spinach.

Pulse until everything is finely chopped, but not purΓ©ed.
A food processor holding the purΓ©ed ingredients to make sun-dried tomato pesto.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the olive oil.
Sun-dried tomato and spinach pesto in a bowl.

Store in the fridge or serve immediately with…
An overhead shot of a bowl holding sun dried-tomato pesto.

… toasty bread! Slice up day-old bread, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. (This is focaccia.)
Sliced focaccia on a sheet pan drizzled with olive oil.

Bake at 450ΒΊF for 7- 10 minutes or until golden.
Olive oil toasted bread on a sheet pan.

Smear the sun-dried tomato pesto over top…
Toast points topped with sun-dried tomato pesto on a sheet pan.

… or serve alongside.
Sun-dried tomato and spinach pesto in a bowl aside toasty bread on a board.

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Sun-dried tomato and spinach pesto in a bowl aside bread.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Pesto

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From Danielle Kartes’s Rustic Joyful Food: My Heart’s Table


for the pesto:

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 3/4 cup (1.52 oz) Parmigiano Regiano, grated or coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups (2.53 oz) spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon, plus more to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

for the crostini:

  • day- or days-old bread, sliced thinly
  • olive oil
  • sea salt


  1. To make the pesto: Place the almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, spinach, garlic, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Season with pepper to taste and a few pinches sea salt.
  2. Pulse 10 to 15 times until the mixture is finely chopped but not completely purΓ©ed. Scrape down the processor and pulse again if necessary. Transfer contents to a bowl.
  3. Stir half a cup of olive oil into the mixture. Taste. Add more olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.
  4. To make the crostini: Preheat the oven to 450ΒΊF. Place the thinly sliced bread on a sheet pan. Drizzle lightly all over with olive oil. Season lightly with sea salt. Transfer pan to the oven and toast for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Spread
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: American/Italian

Keywords: almond, pesto, spinach, sun-dried tomato, garlic, lemon, olive oil, appetizer