Spinach Pesto Pasta
Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes | Serves 4 to 6 | Vegan
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus 1 sprig basil
- 1 pound short pasta, such as gemelli or cavatappi
- 8 cups (5 ounces) fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or ½ cup grated Parmesan (if you don’t want vegan)
In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring often, until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
Add 6 cups water, the basil sprig, and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and let come to a boil.
Stir in the pasta; it should be just barely covered by the water. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. At this point, most of the pasta water should have been absorbed by the pasta and become saucy. If not, simmer a few more minutes until it does. Remove from the heat and discard the basil.
While the pasta cooks, add ½ water to a large skillet or pot and place over medium-high heat. Once it starts to boil, add the spinach and cover tightly with a lid. Cook for about 1 minute, or until the spinach is wilted but still bright green.
Put the spinach, basil, pine nuts, and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Stir the spinach mixture into the pasta. Add the nutritional yeast (or Parmesan) and the pepper. Stir well. Taste for salt; you may want to add a little more. Serve topped with a little more pepper.
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