Pesto and creamy sauces are two of the husband’s favorite pasta toppings.
I actually love pesto too – it’s one of my guilty pleasures. Normally pesto is loaded with tons of oil, cheese, and fat – which makes it a less healthy alternative to marinara sauce.
And while you can sometimes substitute other greens (kale, spinach, etc.) for some of the fat, I’ve never quite found a recipe that tastes perfect. A recipe that tastes just like the original pesto, but with a ton more nutrition for less than half the calories of the original – until now 🙂
This is a wonderful recipe for spring (thank you, CookingLight!). The pesto is lightened up with the addition of spinach, almonds and a bunch of fresh herbs.
The herbs were so aromatic, they filled up our house with the most wonderful smell!
The sauce is thick, almost an emerald green, and still has that lusciousness of a traditional pesto. It coats the linguine so that every mouthful is bursting with taste. I followed the CookingLight recipe, except that I substituted whole wheat linguine for regular, used less olive oil, added chopped tomatoes, and used a bit more spinach and garlic – which gave this an even more earthy flavor.
The husband and I both loved this recipe. And I also loved how quick and easy it was to make! It literally took 30 minutes from start to finish.
The Ingredients (recipe adapted from CookingLight.com)
- 6 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup slivered blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons organic vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated and divided (about 1/4 cup)
- 8 ounces uncooked whole wheat linguine
- Diced tomatoes (optional)
Step 1: Place spinach in a microwave-safe bowl; cover bowl with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove plastic wrap; cool slightly.
Step 2: Place spinach, almonds, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor. Process until chopped.
Step 3: Add broth, juice, and salt; pulse 5 times. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute; process until well blended. Scrape into a bowl; stir in half of cheese. Cover with plastic wrap.
Step 4: Cook pasta according to package directions.
Step 5: As soon as the pasta is done, toss pasta with 1/2 cup pesto. Arrange about 1 1/2 cups pasta mixture on each of ; top each serving with 2 tablespoons remaining pesto, diced tomatoes, and 1 1/2 teaspoons remaining cheese.
This is definitely going to become a weeknight staple in our house. It’s filling and satisfying, and it’s a great way to sneak in extra veggies into your diet (and is especially great for kids who may not want to eat spinach whole – but will totally love it in this pesto!)
It’s a family-friendly dinner that you can feel great about eating.
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