Whole Wheat Linguine with Spinach Herb Pesto

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on March 20, 2013

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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 :)

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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.

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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)

The Directions

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.

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Step 2: Place spinach, almonds, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor. Process until chopped.

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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.

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Step 4: Cook pasta according to package directions.

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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.

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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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Whole Wheat Linguine with Spinach Herb Pesto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Makes 4 Servings. Nutritional Info Per Serving: 325 Calories, 9.7g Fat, 12.9g Protein, 8.3g Fiber, 48g Carbs, 327mg Sodium

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  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.
  2. Place spinach, almonds, and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor. Process until chopped.
  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.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  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.
http://pickyeaterblog.com/whole-wheat-linguine-with-spinach-herb-pesto/

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey March 20, 2013 at 9:48 am

YUM! Gorgeous colors! I literally just ate this exact dish this weekend (tomatoes, whole wheat pasta & everything) – but with regular jarred pesto. Can’t wait to give this version a try, especially if it tastes just as good as the original!

Question: can you use dried herbs in place of fresh? Would it still taste ok?

Reply

Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 9:12 am

Thank you so much Casey! And yes I promise this will taste just as good as regular pesto :) Honestly, I’d really recommend using the fresh herbs for this recipe – the dried ones just won’t be as aromatic, the proportions will be different, and they won’t end up making the creamy consistency that the fresh ones do. So try to get the fresh herbs if you can!

Reply

Courtney March 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

This looks delicious!! :)

Reply

Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

Aw thanks Courtney! Let me know how it turns out!

Reply

Maria Tadic March 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm

This looks so good. I love using different greens to make pesto! This one looks so pretty – I love the bright green!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

I know!! I was so surprised as to how bright the pesto was – but I guess that’s what all the spinach does :) I’m sure you’ll love this recipe!

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dixya@food, pleasure, and health March 21, 2013 at 8:42 am

I heart pesto and love it on everything. Thanks for this skinny version :)

Reply

Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 9:20 am

Absolutely!! Let me know when you try it Dixya! I heart pesto too :)

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Meredith K. March 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm

This looks delicious! I love the idea of making pesto from spinach and the tomatoes make it look gorgeous! I’ll definitely be trying this out soon.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 25, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Thanks so much Meredith! I’m sure you will love this recipe :)

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Valiaskincare March 25, 2013 at 3:06 pm

This looks so delicious! The color of the dish reminds me of Japanese soba… I must try this recipe.

Reply

Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Oh I can see what you mean! You’ll have to let me know how you like this recipe when you try it!

Reply

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