Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spaghetti with Spinach pesto and Asparagus

Presto Pasta Nights

Two days back dinner was spaghetti with spinach pesto. I have been toying with the idea of making pesto with spinach, but, was skeptical how it would taste. And then, I saw on some show (sorry forgot the name....oops) baked fish served on green pea paste. I was thinking, if a paste of frozen green peas (thawed, of course) could taste good, my spinach pesto should also taste good (not sure what kind of psychological logic this would qualify under....may be just meanness? :-) )
So, I set out making spinach pesto, within seconds, realized, no pine nuts! I found some peanuts and some cashews. Dismissed peanuts as I couldn't contemplate the taste of peanuts, spinach and basil together (must try some other time). Finally decided on cashews. The result is spinach-Cashew pesto, which is out of this world. I would highly recommend trying out this pesto; you won't be disappointed.

What you need to make this spaghetti dish:

1 package spaghetti (I used whole-wheat)
4 asparagus stalks
1 medium sized tomato
salt and black pepper powder to taste
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves

To make Pesto:
5-6 fistfuls fresh baby spinach
1 fistful fresh basil leaves
3-4 medium sized garlic cloves, peeled
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 fistful cashews, dry roasted
salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, enough to make pesto
1 teaspoon black pepper powder
2 pinches red chili flakes (optional)
Prep work:
Break Asparagus where the stalk breaks, cu into 1-inch pieces.
Since the fiber in Asparagus in the skin, do not discard the tough piece. Peel it and use with rest.
Dice tomato.

  • Make pesto by either grinding in mortar and pestle or in food processor. Start with spinach, basil leaves, cashews, salt, garlic, pepper, red pepper flakes. Keep adding olive oil to get manageable coarse paste. Add Parmesan cheese, blend lightly.
  • Boil Spaghetti as per directions on the package. Take Spaghetti out into a bowl with tongs. Pour some 'spaghetti water' (water in which its cooked) over to prevent sticky spaghetti.
  • In the same water, cook asparagus for 2-3 minutes until its done, but crunchy to bite. Take out and add immediately to ice cold water. Once cooled, drain and keep aside
  • In a wide sautepan, heat a teaspoon of olive oil. Add dried basil, Asparagus, Spaghetti. Mix well.
  • Add one cup 'spaghetti water' and pesto. Break pesto carefully and fold gently so that it coats spaghetti well. You may add some olive oil to ease the folding. Adjust salt and pepper.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with diced tomatoes.


Ruth Daniels said...

It looks wonderful. Great idea to use spinach as a base for pesto.

Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights

Pavani said...

Yummy Vani.. Love spinach pesto. And definitely love ur mortar and pestle. I so want to buy one.. Did you get it in India? You have a great blog here. Cheers.

Vani said...

Ruth, Thank you. It was delicious.
Pavani, I got the mortar and pestle in South Asian grocery store. You may also want to try in Desi grocery stores.