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Spinach Pesto with Whole-Wheat Pasta


In this hearty pasta dish, using spinach instead of basil makes for a more nutritious take on pesto.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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.

Cook's Notes

Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to three days.

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