Who doesn’t love Spaghetti? And who doesn’t love Pesto? Of course, we all do. But, did you know Pesto can be a sneaky way to incorporate leafy green vegetables into your diet?
Pesto can be purchased in a jar from the grocery store, but there is nothing better than homemade pesto that is fresher and has leafy green vegetables in it, just like this Spinach-Walnut Pesto. All I did was tweaked the original recipe by replacing the Basil with Spinach and the Pine Nuts with Walnuts. What does this do? It makes the Pesto healthier and provides the combined nutrients of Spinach and Walnuts such as Vitamins A and C, minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium and Folate, Protein and Omega -3-fatty acids.
In my household, this Pesto will work great because some type of pasta is a staple at least once a week. The Pesto takes only 10 minutes to prepare and stays in the refrigerator for at up to 7 days. The best part is that the leafy greens can be rotated on a weekly basis. For example, Kale also works great for this Pesto. Here, I have prepared a Spaghetti with the Pesto and added some Red Bell Peppers for some color and crunch.
|Prep time||15 minutes|
|Cook time||15 minutes|
- Whole Grain Spaghetti – 2 hand fulls of your favorite brand
- Spinach – 1.5 cups, tightly packed
- Red Bell Pepper – 1, julienned
Spices and Herbs
- Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed (1 tbsp powder)
- Salt – As per taste
- Pepper – 1 tsp
- Red Chilli Flakes – For granish
- Ground Parmesan Cheese – 1/8 cup
- Olive Oil – 1/4 cup
Food safety tips
– Make sure to wash the leaves for 30 seconds under cold running water while gently rubbing the leaves to release any trapped dirt
– If using packaged greens, and the if the package indicates “Triple Washed” or “Ready to Eat”, there is no need to wash the greens again
– Separate leafy greens from raw meat or poultry products and use separate cutting boards for each to prevent bacterial cross contamination
– Discard leafy greens within 2 hours of chopping or cooking. Always buy leafy greens that are kept at a chilled temperature to prevent bacterial growth
- If vegan, replace the Parmesan Cheese with Nutritional Yeast (which can provide the salty, cheesy flavor). Alternatively, use Salted Cashews (Remember to eliminate the Walnuts in this case) to provide the same thickness and saltiness.
- Kale (Tuscan or Standard Curly Kale) can be used instead of Spinach
- Toasting the Walnuts add a great depth of flavor to the Pesto
- In a pot, add water, spaghetti and a pinch of salt and cook according to the package instructions
- In a blender, add spinach, garlic, walnuts and parmesan cheese (if using). Blend until all the ingredients are finely chopped
- Slowly add olive oil and only blend to mix. Alternatively, the olive oil can be whisked with the mixture by hand. Set the prepared pesto aside
- In a pan, add a drizzle of oil and add the red bell peppers. Sprinkle some salt and allow it to cook, but let the crunch remain
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan and a few 2-3 tbsps of the prepared pesto. To this, add 1-2 tbsps of the cooked spaghetti water. Toss the pasta and let it come together for 1-2 minutes
- Transfer to serving dish. Garnish with red chilli flakes. Bon Appetit 🙂
- Use the pesto for breakfast by spreading it on a toast and topping with some arugula and cherry tomatoes. Scrambled eggs or tofu would be a great addition
- Toss some roasted vegetables with the pesto and serve it on a bed of mixed greens for a warm salad
- Spread the pesto on a warm tortilla, top with some sauteed vegetables and make yourself a fajita (Italian-Mexican fusion 🙂 )
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