May 27, 2013

Spinach-Basil Pesto Penne

Pesto, as a rule, can be made from anything that consists of leafy greens, nuts, cheese, garlic, and olive oil. It is something I would  have on days when bolognese, carbonara even olio suddenly sound complicated or on days when I could not be bothered to cook at all. Of course, there are thousand of different ways to substitute the ingredients. It all depends on your creativity in the kitchen. The leafy green, nuts and cheese are the variables. However, if you are a first timer, sticking to a classic pesto ingredients is a must: basil, pine nuts, parmesan, salt, pepper, olive oil. 

All you need is a pestle and mortar.  Optionally, you may need a pan to toast the nuts. This is only if you want to preserve the oil from nuts, which gives you the creaminess rather than the nuttiness* taste. 

You can opt for a food processor, which by the way  does not make you a cheater. From what I have read, different techniques (chopping, bruising, crushing, etc) would produce different pesto-taste. Or if you are not in any particular rush, try chopping. It is said that it will single out each taste of every ingredient in the sauce. I'd love to try this method one of these days. Lastly, whichever method  you choose, please avoid using a blender. You do not want to end up with a smoothie. #ggs lol

Spinach-Basil Pesto Pasta
1 handful of basil
2 handfuls of spinach
1 handful of pine nuts-slightly toasted
1 garlic or more if you like it to be garlicky
Salt & Pepper
Lemon juice (optional)
1 handful of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Extra virgin olive oil

*Start by slightly toast the nuts in the pans or oven.
Pound the garlic with a little pinch of salt and the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar.
Add the pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Turn out into a bowl and add half the Parmesan. Stir gently and add olive oil – you need just enough to bind the sauce and get it to an oozy consistency.
Season to taste, then add most of the remaining cheese. Pour in some more oil and taste again. Keep adding a bit more cheese or oil until you are happy with the taste and consistency. You may like to add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to give it a little twang, but it's not essential. 


  1. smoothie.. huhuhuhu. wanted to challenge this so many times, but Mr Hubby is not so fancy with the taste of a basil.

  2. Try blanching the basil leaves before pounding it... might help with the after-taste ;)

  3. oh i might subs basil with other herbs/greenies..he he

  4. That looks deliciously flavorful. I can almost smell the toasting pinenuts.