When Jonathan and I first started dating, he would often cook for me (that definitely didn’t last too long lol). His Man Menu was usually some sort of meat or fish (fried/grilled in a pan) with a canned vegetable or rice. If he was feeling fancy, though, he would make me a special treat: Pasta Pesto (announced in an Italian accent as he arrived with a piping plate to the table). The recipe was simple enough, and honestly not bad: once your spaghetti noodles were cooked to an al dente perfection, drain, then stir in your jarred pesto sauce and about ½ cup of cream. Mix well and serve to your lovely girlfriend.
Bless his heart… he meant well and that’s one of the (many) reasons I fell for him, but I never really liked pesto, and pasta sauce out of a jar is basically a sin in my book. After all, why go for all the preservatives when you can make the same thing from scratch with only a few ingredients?!
Jonathan loves pesto though, and religiously orders it whenever we are in Italy (because we go every year!! I will never stop being amazed by the fact that we get to spend a few weeks in Italy each summer. Even after 10 years of living in Europe, I gotta admit: some things never get old.)
I have never been a big fan of pesto and I will always opt for a tomato-based sauce for my pasta when given the choice. Whenever I try to change it up, I’m disappointed and wish I had just ordered the spaghetti al pomodoro, pasta alla norma, or the Bolognese that I know I will love. Some non-tomatoey recipes, though, have a special place in my heart, and this pesto is one of them.
I’ve been trying to really seriously plan our meals to make sure that we’re eating well-balanced and diverse meals, and I realized that almost all of my go-to recipes have meat (and dairy) in them. So, in the spirit of incorporating Meatless Mondays into our routine, I decided to try my hand at one of Jonathan’s favorites! And thus, the vegan spinach and basil pasta recipe was born. You didn’t think I would waste this opportunity to sneak in some veggies, did you? 😉
To be fair, I didn’t plan to make this pesto vegan, but we didn’t have any parmesan on-hand, so I just skipped it and hoped for the best. The result is so surprisingly creamy and full of flavor that I can honestly say I didn’t miss the cheese (or tons of olive oil) one bit. The addition of spinach adds an extra dose of vitamins, and the basil gives it that pestoey zing and freshens it up.
This vegan pesto recipe is legit you guys, so much so that I’m wondering if I’ll ever go back to making “regular” pesto. Traditional pesto is usually made with a ton of parmesan cheese and olive oil, and to be fair, is pretty darn good too. This stuff, though, is full of flavor with just enough garlic and just a splash of olive oil. So you can have a totally guilt-free bowl of pesto and (whole grain) pasta without thinking too hard about all of the calories. Enjoy!
- 1 cup of spinach
- 1 cup of basil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup of pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- around ¼ cup of water
- Combine all ingredients in the food processor, except for the water.
- Slowly add in the water until reaching the desired consistency.
- Serve over cooked linguine or penne (or whatever you prefer — those are just two of our favorites)