Spinach and walnut pesto with wholemeal pasta

Spinach and walnut pesto

Gavin Wren Basic Ingredients, Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

Hello folks.

Another straightforward recipe for you today, one whose big, powerful flavours bely it’s simplicity. This is something that you can whizz up in the time it takes your pasta to cook and tastes a million times better than anything you might pour from a jar. You just need a blender and your ingredients to hand and you can have this pesto ready to eat in minutes.

Blanch spinach and basil colander

It also falls into a theme on my blog, something that’s popped up a few times over the most recent recipes. Simplicity. Keeping the ingredients list short and the preparation straightforward can be a winning combination, compared to the easily muddled complication of complex flavours. It allows the ingredients that are in the dish to find their own places and shine through, without getting lost in the fray.

Spinach and walnut pesto in the blender

Now, the keen eyed among you might have noticed that I don’t include cheese in this sauce. This may seem like heresy and by all means berate me for the use of the word pesto to describe it. However it really stands proud on it’s own, without the cheese, so I serve cheese on the side for consumers to add at their discretion. Which generally means extremely liberally around here!

Spinach and walnut pesto with wholemeal pasta

This sauce also works will with other foods, I put a batch on some barley, mixed it with broccoli and topped with crumbled feta and the result was a very fine lunch dish indeed. You could also use it on toast, to make crostini, or mix with all sorts of other ingredients.

Spinach and walnut pesto with wholemeal pasta

Spinach and walnut pesto


Serves 4

Uses 1 pot, a colander and a blender

PDF recipe card to download or print


400g dried pasta (I used wholemeal)
260g Spinach leaves
25g basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, zest only
½ lemon, juice only
75g walnuts
3-5 tablespoons olive oil
120g pecorino or parmesan, finely grated


I’ve written this recipe with the assumption that you’re making it for the first time. However, if you feel confident, or have made this once or twice already, then you should be able to throw it together in the time it takes your pasta takes to cook.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, fill your kettle and boil it. Put your spinach and basil leaves in a colander, place it in the sink then pour the entire kettle of boiled water over it. Use a wooden spoon to move the spinach around a bit to allow the water out and squeeze it against the side. When cool enough, use your hand to squeeze as much water out of the leaves as possible.

Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the pack instructions.

Place in a blender the squeezed spinach, basil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, walnuts and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Turn on a low speed and if the ingredients stick to the side, stop and scrape them down. If they persistently don’t mix, then add a bit more olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. You will probably need to scrape down the sides a few times until the ingredients get really broken down and well blended.

When your pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, drain, return to the pan and then mix in the pesto. Serve with the grated cheese on the side and freshly ground salt and pepper.

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