I’ve had this recipe sitting in queue to be posted for over a month now, and several times came very close to eliminating it altogether. And it’s not because it isn’t delicious, because it’s way good, but I must admit to being just a little embarrassed at how many pasta dishes and how many pesto recipes I’ve posted over the course of the past 2 ½ years.
But I have to believe I’m not the only person out there who will never tire of a good, toothsome pasta coated with a lovely pesto sauce. And it doesn’t really matter what combination of flavors or ingredients are involved, really, in my world, pesto rocks!
So when I saw this particular recipe published in our newspaper, I was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t yet thought of making a spinach pesto. It’s genius, really. Admittedly, many pesto sauces, especially the ones you buy in the store, are pretty oily and not all that health-conscious. But this one, people, this one is not only good for you, it tastes awesome.
If you own a blender or a food processor, this is one of the quickest meals you can possibly throw together. Of course, you can make the sauce ahead of time, but even if you don’t, you can have dinner on the table in the time it takes you to boil your pasta. And I’m guessing that even if your kids are averse to eating anything green, they’re going to love this one.
So instead of apologizing for what might seem like culinary redundancy, I have instead added another pesto recipe to my collection and prefer to think of it as an embarrassment of riches. Here’s the recipe…
PASTA WITH SPINACH PESTO
1 lb pasta (spaghetti, penne, fettuccine or linguini)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 10-oz pkg of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, plus more for serving
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon grated zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
Optional, 4 oz soft goat cheese
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente (I usually cook it 1 minute less than the package directs). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
While the pasta is cooking, place the spinach, parmesan, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest and juice in a food processor or blender. Process until a paste forms. With the motor running, add oil and ¼ cup cold water, and process until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add to the pasta and toss, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time until the sauce is thinned slightly and coats the pasta.
If desired, stir in the goat cheese when you add the pesto to the pasta.
Serve, sprinkled with additional Parmesan and nuts.