Spinach, Basil, and Cilantro Pesto

Here’s something you should know about me: I hate wasting food. I renew my membership with the Clean Plate Club as often as possible. I’m the one who stares at that last piece of sushi thinking, “Somebody please just take it already!” And you know when there’s just enough cereal left that your bowl is full, but there’s too little to have another bowl later? Yep, I just keep pouring. Clearly, that last one is one of my more superb dieting strategies. 

There’s nothing I hate more than buying ingredients for a recipe, using half of them, and watching the rest go to waste in my fridge. I find this happens way too often when I buy fresh herbs. They add so much flavor to dishes, but it truly irks me when I can’t find another use for them.

Spinach, basil, and cilantro pesto - an incredibly easy and flavorful way to use up fresh herbs!

That was me last week – I had a little bit of baby spinach, half a box of basil, and a handful of cilantro piling up in my fridge. Pesto seemed like a perfect way to use up these fresh herbs, so I whipped out my mini turquoise food processor and set to work. I was completely blown away by the results. This sauce is everything you want out of fresh pesto: colorful, fresh, and incredibly flavorful.

Traditional basil pesto is hard to beat in my book – tossed over some pasta, or spread on a panini – there’s really nothing better to brighten up a simple dish. But this pesto has a whole new flavor profile. The lemon and cilantro give it a bright citrus flavor. The best adjective I can think to describe it is “zippy,” so if you’re not familiar with the “zip” flavor, just trust me that you’ll immediately perk up any dish you make with this pesto.

Making your own pesto is one of those things that sounds really fancy, but in reality is incredibly easy. All you have to do is pop all the ingredients in a food processor and let it whir around until it looks like pesto. 🙂 You could double or triple the amount based on what you have in the fridge. This recipe made about 1/2 cup: enough to toss with pasta for dinner, or dollop on top of chicken. I also smeared it on some tortillas this week to make breakfast burritos with chopped tomatoes, scrambled eggs, and  parmesan cheese – they were perfect! 

Spinach, basil, and cilantro pesto - an incredibly easy and flavorful way to use up fresh herbs!

Another great thing about this pesto is it’s nut-free. I don’t have a lot of nuts in my house unless I’m using them for something specific, so I left them out of this impromptu pesto-making session. It turns out I didn’t miss them at all. The spinach leaves give it a little more of the robust texture a typical basil pesto would be missing if made without nuts – try it out and let me know what you think! Nut-free pesto is a plus for anyone with allergies, and actually makes this a more low-calorie option. Bring on the overfilled cereal bowls.

Spinach, basil, and cilantro pesto - an incredibly easy and flavorful way to use up fresh herbs!

Spinach, Basil, and Cilantro Pesto

Adapted from: Spinach Basil Pesto and Cilantro Basil Pesto
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: ~1/2 cup


1 cup spinach

1/2 cup basil, packed

1/2 cup cilantro, packed

1 clove garlic

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tbsp parmesan cheese

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

2-3 tbsp olive oil


Place all ingredients into a food processor with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, pulse until combined. Scrape down sides, add second tablespoon oil, and continue blending until fully combined. Add up to one more tablespoon olive oil if it still looks too thick.

Store in a plastic container or bag in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in freezer-proof plastic bags.