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Spinach Pesto with Whole-Wheat Pasta

Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, this unconventional version of pesto will last up to three days.

  • Servings: 4
Spinach Pesto with Whole-Wheat Pasta

Source: Body+Soul, April 2009


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 bunches flat-leaf spinach (about 1 pound total), trimmed and washed
  • 10 ounces whole-wheat short, tubular pasta
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water; place a colander inside, resting in ice.

  2. In batches, stir spinach into boiling
    water. Cook until wilted and bright
    green, about 30 seconds. Transfer spinach
    to the colander (in the ice bath)
    to stop cooking. Reserve boiling water.
    Cool completely in ice bath, then lift
    colander; squeeze spinach dry.

  3. Cook pasta in reserved boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Save 1/2 cup pasta water; immediately drain pasta, and return to pot.

  4. Meanwhile, place spinach, Parmesan, walnuts, garlic, and lemon zest and juice in a food processor. Process until a coarse paste forms. With motor running, add oil and 1/4 cup plain water; process until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. Add tomatoes and pesto to pasta; toss, adding reserved pasta water to coat pasta, if necessary. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, as needed. Serve with additional Parmesan, if desired.

Reviews (5)

  • teelalow 16 Feb, 2014

    Left out lemon juice/zest used pecans in a crunch was delicious

  • randi_ervin 9 Nov, 2012

    This is a great recipe! I made it for lunch this week and was pretty pleased. But yes, with this recipe, A LOT of pesto is made. But I stuck with it and added peas to the dish (my sister suggested this after I accidentally put in too much lemon) and overall it was a nice complement.

  • barbmumsie 4 Aug, 2011

    I really liked the flavor of this pesto; very fresh tasting. The first time I made it was early Spring and I had access to fresh spinach from the garden...yum! It made enough to generously cover a pound of pasta, if you cook the 10 oz. pasta specified, you can freeze half for another day! Enjoy .

  • Aloofah 12 Jan, 2010

    I also tried this recipe but when it came time to add pesto, I only added enough pesto to suit my eye and taste appeal.

  • itsange 21 Apr, 2009

    I tried this recipe and I would love to see feedback from others who have tried it. For me the recipe did not turn out well. I followed the recipe exactly but I found one pound of spinache that is called for in the recipe was way too much. I eneded up with noodles that were completely coated in green goop. In the picture it is only very lightly coated. Did anyone have better luck?

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