Salad-bag Pesto, 9p [VG/V/DF/GF]

Bagged salad is one of the most wasted foods in Britain, with over half of it ending up in landfill. I have had this recipe in mind since my first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, and although it is something I make for myself on a regular basis, absorbed into my household as a common staple, it has never been committed to paper (nor screen) until now. Bags of salad can be expensive to buy full price, but can often be found in the reduced chiller at the supermarket, which is where I nabbed this one. I wrestled with pricing it at the reduced price here, as I am well aware that if your reduced chiller is devoid of salad bags then the price of the recipe increases, but this website has always been a combination of everyday reportage and gentle instruction, so I hope nobody takes umbrage to it. I like using salad leaves for pesto for variety, too, the peppery tang of rocket, the pop of colour from a beetroot leaf or baby chard, the sweet crunch of a tiny piece of spinach – and as an easy way towards five a day, hot and slathered all over slick soft pasta. May the reduced stickers be ever in your favour.

Serves 6 at 9p each

150g bag of salad, 38p (38p reduced from £1.50, the Co-op)

1 fat clove of garlic or 1 tsp garlic paste, 2p (60p for 3 bulbs, Growers Selection at Asda)

60ml sunflower oil, 6p (£1.09/l, Asda)

25ml lemon juice, 4p  (39p/250ml, Asda)

a pinch of salt, <1p  (27p/750g, Asda table salt)

a pinch of pepper, <1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand)

Finely chop your salad into smithereens with a heavy, sharp knife. If you have a bullet blender or food processor you may find it easier to bung them all in here, but (on a good hands day) I enjoy the vigorous satisfaction of grinding a blade repeatedly into a bunch of leaves until they resemble a small pile of dust. 

Pop the tiny pieces of leaf into a bowl. Peel and finely chop your garlic, if using fresh cloves, and add that too, or a teaspoon of garlic paste. (I have been making my own garlic paste by the truckload to use in times of seized-up fingers, and I will write about it shortly). 

Add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix well. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for a few months.

You may want to add finely grated cheese to it to make something more closely resembling a traditional pesto, which would be a marvellous addition. I served mine warm over spaghetti with a couple of very finely chopped tomatoes folded through and a smattering of extra pepper.

 This blog is free to those who need it, and always will be, but it does of course incur costs to run and keep it running. If you use it and benefit, enjoy it, and would like to keep it going, please consider popping something in the tip jar, and thankyou.


  1. Yum! As we get older, the two of us eat less and I struggle to use up salad leaves

  2. I always have bagged salad left over (I only cook for myself) but have never thought of doing this – brilliant idea!

  3. Thanks so much for this! My parents/significant other tend to buy bagged salad and it would always go off before it was used, breaking my heart. I could never think of a use for it beyond, y’know, salad. This is a stroke of genius! Cheers!

  4. It’s likely true in America, too that these bagged salads are trashed. I pick up a tub full three times/week at my local market ostensibly to feed chickens and goats. They get some, but I get first pick and share with friends. Love the pesto idea, might whiz in some nuts for extra protein. I have also used the chopped salads in soup.

  5. Brilliant idea. If you add a bit of vinegar and some chillies you’d have a variation of chimichurri. Which is delicious on pretty much everything.

  6. What the consistancy of it when it comes out of the freezer please? I am thinking it freezes ok otherwise you’d not mention it but lettuce doesn’t freeze well on its own!

  7. What a genius idea. Mine usually gets lobbed into a pan of soup on ‘clean out the fridge and make good use of everything’ day. But I’ll give this a go next time 😊

  8. Jack, I’d be happy to bung a sixpence into the tip jar, but I’d be a lot happier about it if it was all going to you. Do you have a paypal addie please?

      • Yeah, but they usually take a fee unless you pay using “friends and family” option. Which I can do if I know your paypal address, but not otherwise. I fundraise for the wonderful woman who rescued my 2 dogs from the streets, and spend half my life trying not to give paypal fees. Their exchange rates are so poor they must be raking it in, they don’t need to charge fees on top for donations! IMHO. 🙂

  9. I always have good intentions when I buy bagged salad, this will be a great alternative to throwing it in soups. Thanks!

  10. Great recipe! We always have salad lurking! Not being nosey but have a look at the Simply cbd website and Facebook support page. I’m on cbd and am having amazing results with my pain and stiffness.

  11. This looks incredible. At the end of last summer I had a large flower pot of assorted salad leaves growing outside the front door. Over winter I assumed they would die off, but after I scraped the snow off them yesterday, I discovered they are going strong – albeit a bit woody in places. Now that the baby daffodils are growing through the salad I know it’s time to use them up completely … so thanks Jack for a solution. Another brilliant idea!

  12. Love it! I hate wasting food. 🙂

    I also discovered recently that you can make a pretty decent pesto from carrot top greens. And it reduces waste too! 😀

  13. So I tried to make this tonight.. Thought I’d stick it in the blender as I couldn’t be bothered chopping by hand. Couldn’t get the blades to catch it so first I put a bit more oil in, then more lemon juice.. still wouldn’t catch so I tried to prod it down with a spatula..
    Bye bye spatula tip. 🙁
    Pulled it all out and looked through it trying to find the piece.. no joy. So then I have the mini mental debate over do I waste everything I’ve just put into it or accept there will be a little extra plastic in my pesto..
    I’ll take the plastic. And do it by hand next time!

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