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Spinach and basil pesto basil in a white bowl

Spinach Basil Pesto Pasta

Shweta Arora
This spinach basil pesto pasta is a quick and easy recipe loaded with fresh herby flavors. Pair it with some roasted tomatoes and there you have a delicious vegetarian weeknight meal.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

For Spinach Pesto

  • 2 cups packed spinach leaves using baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • ¼ cup walnuts roughly chopped or pine nuts, almonds, pecans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of ½ lemon or to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated Or Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

For Pasta:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic finely sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • ½ teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 cups of penne pasta or any pasta of choice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dry parsley flakes
  • red chili flakes to taste
  • ½ to 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For Spinach Pesto :

  • Roast the walnuts on low flame till they slightly brown and start releasing some of its oil. Allow to cool.
  • Wash your greens i.e. Spinach and basil and add those along with rest of the ingredients (except Parmigiano Reggiano) to the blender.
  • Blend until smooth. You can blend it till the texture you like. Some like their pesto smooth and some like it coarse. I opted for smooth for this recipe.
  • Remove from the blender into a clean cup/bowl and add the Parmigiano Reggiano to it. Mix well.
  • If you don't plan to use the pesto within a day or two I would recommend freezing it. In which case you can skip adding cheese and instead add it when you want to use the pesto.
  • When ready to use, just thaw the pesto, add the cheese and use as required. I usually freeze my pesto in ice cube trays and once set transfer to freezer safe Ziploc bags or containers.

For the Pasta:

  • In a pan heat some oil and add the tomatoes and saute for about 2 mins on medium heat. Then give them a gentle toss and add oregano, salt and pepper, and cook till look soft and juicy and yet retain their shape somewhat. Keep aside. (This step is completely optional)
  • Add pasta to boiling water that is seasoned with salt and cook as per package instructions till Al dente (approximately 10 -15 mins) or until how soft you like your pasta.
  • Strain the liquid and transfer the pasta back to the pot. Add a tablespoon of butter and give it a good mix.
  • Now add the pesto, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, chilli flakes, dry parsley salt and pepper. Give it a good mix and finally add the Parmigiano Reggiano.
  • Mix until everything is well combined.
  • Spinach Basil Pesto Pasta is ready!! Serve with some side of Garlic Bread or on its own topped with some generous sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Notes

  • Spinach tends to oxidize and change color as soon as it hits the pan of pasta so I would recommend mixing then pesto and pasta only before serving it to retain the color. The color change however doesn't alter the taste. 
  • To make it even more wholesome you can add some veggies to this pasta. Just boil them with pasta or cook them in some butter, salt and pepper and add to the pasta. 
  • Cook the pasta al dente, as it will continue to cook once it's drained and mixed with the pesto.
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