Leftover Salad Frugal Pesto

I’m thinking everyone has done this: You stash leftover dressed salad in the fridge thinking you will eat it soon. “C’mon, it’ll be fine,” you say to yourself. Then, you go to the fridge later and discover a sad, soggy, wilted pile where your fresh salad used to be.I made a pesto recipe out of a wilted spinach salad. I think it is a rather brilliant way to stretch the delicious spinach salad recipe with strawberries, goat cheese and candied walnuts into another dish.

I was so disappointed when I went to the refrigerator to get some left over salad for lunch and realized that I had dressed all of the spinach the night before and now, it was wilted. The spinach, goat cheese and strawberry combo from the day before (don’t forget the walnuts) sounded so good to me that I just had to figure out a way to finish them off. I decided that if pesto is made by just chopping up basil and smothering it in oil anyway, why not start out with spinach that was dressed in olive oil already?

It worked out really well and the little bit of balsamic vinegar from the original vinaigrette gave the pesto a tiny bit of sweetness and just a little tang. I stretched the remaining goat cheese, strawberries and walnuts by putting them on a sliced baguette and drizzling them with the pesto.

The thing to watch for when using the “all ready been dressed” spinach is, of coarse, the type of dressing used in the first place. I can’t quite picture pesto made with ranch or thousand island dressing. Also, taste for salt and garlic levels as you go along; you might want to hold back on some of these ingredients to start out. You can always add more if needed.

Wilted Spinach Salad Pesto

2 1/2 cups leftover spinach greens

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked

1/2 to 2/3 cups olive oil

1/2 pint strawberries

3 oz creamy goat cheese

1/2 baguette

Put spinach, garlic, walnuts, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times. Drizzle olive oil into food processor while pulsing until you reach the desired consistency.

Slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices and toast lightly. Top baguette slices with quartered strawberries and goat cheese. Drizzle with pesto.

Donna’s picks for other creative frugal pestos:
Spinach Arugula Pesto, Andrea’s Recipes
Garlic Scapes Pesto, Cheap Healthy Good
Spinach Pesto, 5 Dollar Dinners
Arugula, Cilantro and Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Thrifty Table
Easy Almond Pesto, Barbara Bakes
Cilantro Pistachio Pesto, Poor Girl Eats Well



  1. Sandra says

    I am really eager to try this 2morrow….have leftovers, of a restaurant Greek Salad, and tomorrow it becomes pesto…Great idea!

  2. says

    Awesome idea! I hate it when my salad gets all wilty..It feels like such a waste to throw it out though! This would make for a super flavorful grilled cheese, which is one of my favorite ways to use pesto! Or even pasta sauce!

  3. says

    Genius! What a great idea!

    By the way, you can also make a delicious pesto out of dandelion greens. If you don’t spray chemicals on your yard, just pick the young leaves before the flowers bloom, give ’em a quick wash and pesto them up with olive oil, garlic, and a good cheese like pecorino or parmesan. You can add pine nuts, walnuts, or hazelnuts if you want to. Dandelions are a lot more useful than we give them credit for!

  4. says

    What an EXCELLENT idea. This is great. I am always lamenting when I have to toss uneatened lettuce that is past its peak. And I love pesto. This idea is just too perfect.

    • says

      Jo and LInda- I love this idea, too! It works best with sturdy greens, but if you try it with other salads – let us know the result!

  5. Linda says

    I’m so glad to hear I am not the only one wondering what to do with my wilted salads! Good tip!

    Would any salad work or would it have to be spinach?

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