Penne Pasta in Spinach Basil Pesto Sauce


Sister’s Favorite!

My sister has no clue about cooking in general. It’s not her “cup of tea”. Growing up in a servantless home, I remember her doing all the cleaning and laundry but she didn’t consider the idea of manning the kitchen. It was my territory and remained mine until now. We grew up as her being Cinderelly and I, being the wicked witch who constantly laddle-ing my huge cauldron at the kitchen. However, she loves food as much as I love my new battery-operated grinding mill! Yey!

It was like 2 months ago when Panyang and I saw this on TV while we were watching a cooking show. And we both agreed that it’s very convenient and we should start looking for one to buy. I found one here in a local cooking store in Petah Tikva for only 65NIS (approx. $18USD). It’s actually a pepper grinder with adjustable grinding level. It means, you can adjust how you want your pepper to come out. The thing is, you don’t need to grind it manually. You just need to push that silver button on top and you’ll have your freshly ground pepper in whatever size you want it to be. Well yeah, I’m a sucker for this small irrelevant things. Haha!raw

In the Philippines, we are more into a tomato sauce kind of pasta dishes. We cannot actually visualize pasta in another color or taste. Pasta means sweet tasting spaghetti in red color. (or maybe it was just me because I grew up in a town where we eat spaghetti with ketchup and hotdog tidbits). But then again, things changed when I started to explore the world away from home. I learned a great deal of things when I went abroad 7 years ago and I realized that there are many things in this world that everyone could fully experience.

 DSC_5042As I delve into the world, I learned that pasta in its simplest form can turn into a great meal in different colors and textures. One beautiful thing I discovered was that basil is undeniably good for pasta. The first time I did a pesto sauce was like 5 years ago and it was a hit. It became my sister’s absolute favorite. She’s not so particular with the name. She’s just asking me to make “that yummy green pasta”.

I’ve searched for many recipes online and found several inspirations. Until recently, I was able to make my own set of ingredients. Anyway, everything is just a lame copy of some yummy recipes available. You’ll just eventually learn how to make your own according to your taste. As much as I love Basil, I still love making pasta pesto sauce with spinach than just pure basil. Maybe because I want to feel the garlic. Basil has the tendency to overpower it no matter how many cloves you put in.


  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach (you can use the frozen ones but make sure to thaw and drain it well before using)
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic; halved (you can add more if you want)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (and some more for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 225 grams Penne Rigate Pasta or any kind of pasta


1. To toast the pine nuts, put it in a small pan under low heat and toast by continuously shaking the pan until the pine nuts turns slightly brown. Do not over toast it. DSC_4993


2. Combine the basil, spinach, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

3. Add gradually the oil while processing until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain well and transfer to a big deep bowl.

5. Pour over your pesto sauce and mix well. You can probably use only a half of the whole pesto sauce for your 225 grams of Penne Rigate.


6. Transfer into individual warm serving plate. Garnish with some toasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and sprig of basil. Serve immediately.


1. You can serve this with grilled chicken breast seasoned with salt, pepper and hot paprika. Sear on a hot grill pan for 2-3 minutes each side depending on the thickness of the meat. Slice in strips and put on top of the pesto pasta.


2. You can keep the remaining half of the pesto sauce in a tight-lid container and put inside the freezer up to 2-3 months. Thaw and use as sauce for another spinach and pesto pasta dish.

DSC_5028* I hope you’ll give this a try soon. It’s so delicious but not so greasy and intense. It’s lighter than usual pesto sauce except of course, I put more garlic because I love garlic and there’s no such thing as too much garlic in my world. But, you can always adjust the ingredients according to how you prefer it*

I can’t wait to share this to my sister. *Evil Grin*




6 thoughts on “Penne Pasta in Spinach Basil Pesto Sauce

  1. Wow it looks great! Been wanting to try to make my own pesto. Will definitely give it a try as I love all the ingredients in the pesto! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>