Linguini with Spinach Pesto

Linguini with spinach pesto topped with parmesan

I made this pesto in this Linguini With Spinach Pesto the old-fashioned way: with a mortar and pestle. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t have one, just use a blender instead.

Linguini with Spinach Pesto


  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach

  • 5 whole black peppercorns

  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt plus more to taste

  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 tsp aged sherry vinegar

  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmigiana reggiano

  • 2 oz. linguini

  • 1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted and broken into pieces


  • Rinse the spinach in cold water and pick out any wilted or brown leaves. 

  • Place the salt, black peppercorns, and nutmeg in the mortar and crush with the pestle.

  • Add the spinach to the mortar, one-half cup at a time, and pound with the pestle until broken down into a liquid paste. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar, then the cheese, using the pestle to crush the ingredients against the side of the bowl. The pesto should lighten in color as the cheese emulsifies into the mix. Set aside.

  • Fill a 2.5 quart or larger saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add salt and taste. The water should taste salty. Add pasta to the pot and cook according to package instructions.

  • While the pasta is cooking, place pecans in a cold, stainless steel ten-inch skillet and place them over medium heat. Toast the pecans, shaking the pan occasionally until done, around five minutes, or until they smell like toasted pecan butter. Remove from heat immediately, place in a small bowl to cool, then break into small pieces.

  • Once the pasta has finished cooking, set aside two tablespoons of pasta water, then drain the pasta, being careful of the steam. Place the pasta, reserved pasta water, pecans, and 1/4 cup of the pesto in the skillet used to toast the pecans and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Add more finely grated Parmigiana Reggiano on top.



    • I have not made this specific pesto with a blender. However, if you wish to use a blender, follow the instructions found in Pesto Made With Spring Greens. You will need more liquid to help the spinach blend, so make the pasta first and use two to four tablespoons of the pasta water along with the teaspoon of olive oil.
    • You can use either fresh or dried pasta for this recipe. If using fresh pasta, cook it for two to four minutes. Cook all pasta until al dente.
    • Be careful when adding salt to the pesto, as the cheese and pasta water are salty as well. The pesto should taste just a tiny bit under-salted. Add more salt after you’ve combined the pesto and pasta and only if you think it needs it.

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