Toasted Walnut Spinach Pesto Pasta

Marla Meridith

February 24, 2012

Spiral pasta with homemade spinach pesto sauce

Spiral pasta with homemade spinach pesto sauce

We are just about to wrap up our two week trip at our home away from home in the mountains. At the start of out vacation we were welcomed by a huge order or fresh and fabulous food delivered by Black Canyon Foods. This was my first time ordering from these folks and this must happen every visit to Colorado. In our order was a Cilantro Pesto sauce that was gone in seconds. It was time to make my own version!

With just a few items left in the fridge and pantry I put myself up to the challenge of using up every last bit of what we have left. I refuse to waste food, sooooo with a heap of baby spinach, toasted walnuts, parmesan and olive oil our pesto sauce was put together in minutes.
Spiral pasta in rainbow colors on rustic wooden table

My kids and husband love this curly swirly rainbow hued pasta. It is an irresistible subject for photography.

Grab a few handfuls of baby spinach to get a dazzling green color…

Baby spinach leaves on linen napkin.

What is not to love about a sauce that can be whizzed up in seconds in your food processor? The ingredients don’t need to be fussy or carefully measured out. Choose you greens, nuts and cheese according to what you have lying around. No heat required.

Homemade baby spinach pesto sauce in a glass with long spoon

My recipe calls for just a few servings, but you can make a whole lot more and enjoy it for a few days worth of lunch box meals and dinners.

You can easily make this a grain free or gluten free meal by simply omitting the pasta. I enjoy my pesto spooned over fried eggs, which makes this a low carb-grain free meal. I also toss a few spoonfuls in my salads as a dressing. You can thin it out with more olive oil if you wish.

Spiral pasta with homemade spinach pesto sauce

Pesto with quinoa or gluten free pasta is wonderfully tasty too. Toss in some chunks of grilled chicken, slabs of seared tuna or tofu for extra protein.

Little boy in ski suit walking on snowy stairs

We love coming into hearty, healthy meals after hitting it hard on the slopes.

Gorrono Ranch in Telluride Colorado

Serve hot, cold or anywhere in between.

Spiral pasta with homemade spinach pesto sauce

Do you have a favorite pesto recipe? What ingredients do you add to yours?


Pesto Recipe Links

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Share your thoughts

  • Jenny Flake
    Posted at 06:04h, 24 February

    Gorgeous Marla! Looks like the perfect pesto pasta 🙂 xoxo

  • Maria
    Posted at 06:10h, 24 February

    I love everything about this pasta dish! Nice!

  • Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media]
    Posted at 06:11h, 24 February

    I have never made homemade pesto. I think this recipe is a great starting point. Thanks Marla!

    • Marla
      Posted at 07:28h, 24 February

      Allison, you must make some homemade pesto. It takes just seconds and is well worth the effort!

  • HeatherChristo
    Posted at 06:12h, 24 February

    beautiful marla! and so healthy!

  • Shawna @ CheekyChicFamily
    Posted at 06:15h, 24 February

    This looks great! Spinach is one of my favorite foods just because it’s so versatile. It can go into sweet smoothies, sautéed, raw in salads and on sandwiches, and made into pesto. Really, what can’t you do with Spinach? We buy it by the box in our house.

    • Marla
      Posted at 07:30h, 24 February

      Shawna, it is great how versatile spinach is. I need to try a smoothie with it, been seeing loads of great recipes around the web. Very smart to buy it by the box as it does go quickly!

  • Grace@ FoodFitnessFreshair
    Posted at 06:24h, 24 February

    I love the rainbow curled pasta too! It’s so fun. We haven’t seen more than an inch of snow where I live all winter, which is so strange. I’d kill to go snowboarding soon! Enjoy the rest of your trip.

    • Marla
      Posted at 07:30h, 24 February

      Thanks Grace, they had a slow start here with the snow ~ but thankfully the weather caught up & it has been making up for lost time!

  • Soma
    Posted at 06:32h, 24 February

    Give me any green pesto and I am a happy girl. It looks so fabulous and the little twirly swirly pastas are to die for 😉 Thank you so much for he link. Hugs.

  • Rosa
    Posted at 06:34h, 24 February

    I love original pestos and this one is gorgeous! The pasta are wonderful too. So pretty.



  • Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free
    Posted at 06:40h, 24 February

    Love pesto. I usually make mine dairy-free with nutritional yeast instead of cheese, and no one can ever tell the difference!

    Gorgeous pictures, as always 😀 Have a fabulous last day in the mountains!

    • Marla
      Posted at 07:27h, 24 February

      Alex, that is a great idea to make this a vegan recipe. Thanks for the helpful tip, must try!

  • Anna
    Posted at 06:42h, 24 February

    Where do you get that curly rainbow pasta? It’s lovely!

  • Cassie
    Posted at 06:43h, 24 February

    I adore that pasta, Marla! Pesto is a go-to for me. So quick and simple and my husband and I both love it. Can’t wait to try this one!

  • Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking
    Posted at 06:52h, 24 February

    Love the flavors that you combined for this dish, Marla! I’ve never eaten or made spinach pesto but I’d love to try. Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.
    Posted at 06:54h, 24 February

    yum! I am so making this

  • Shaina
    Posted at 07:16h, 24 February

    I love pesto. I’m seriously wishing I had a bowl of this right now, and it’s only 9 a.m. Gorgeous.

  • Erin
    Posted at 07:36h, 24 February

    I love using spinach in pesto! Looks delicious!

  • Liz
    Posted at 08:02h, 24 February

    I made tons of basil pesto this summer when it was plentiful. I will definitely give this a try!

  • Angie
    Posted at 08:36h, 24 February

    Love this pesto recipe!

  • Lucy
    Posted at 08:36h, 24 February

    Love those swirly pasta pieces and this pesto sounds really good – thanks for inspiration – was feeling in need of the color boost!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    Posted at 09:03h, 24 February

    Pesto looks wonderful and can’t believe your trip is wrapping up…I hope you’ve had a mental and soul-recharging kind of trip. You deserve it and I know it’s your happy place 🙂

  • Katie {}
    Posted at 09:20h, 24 February

    Gorgeous Marla! I love making homemade pesto sauces! So refreshing and yummy!!

  • Erin @ Brownie Bites
    Posted at 09:21h, 24 February

    I get such a kick out of “use whatever’s in the kitchen” recipes. Like you, I can’t stand wasting food. It’s kind of fun to thing of new ways to use ingredients that I already have available!

  • Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers
    Posted at 10:30h, 24 February

    Looks fabolous! I have a secret love for Pesto, I don’t make it nearly enough!

  • susan
    Posted at 11:13h, 24 February

    I love pesto of any kind! Pretty pasta!

  • Bev Weidner
    Posted at 11:18h, 24 February

    Pesto is a TWU LUV of mine. I smear it on like a face mask and lick it off.



  • Bria @ West of Pesia
    Posted at 15:22h, 24 February

    Delicious pesto and pictures. Oh how I love Colorado. Enjoy the rest of your time there. Btw, made your no-bake chocolate breakfast cake and it was awesome 🙂

  • Jen at The Three Little Piglets
    Posted at 15:28h, 24 February

    I love all pesto really, but I just saw a recipe for arugula pesto I’m dying to give a whirl, as I’ve never had arugula pesto before. And that colored pasta really does make for some gorgeous photos!

  • aida mollenkamp
    Posted at 16:01h, 24 February

    I just made a very similar pesto the other night. There’s something about cold weather and pesto that I love!

  • Jeanette
    Posted at 18:07h, 24 February

    We love pesto in our house. During the summer, we make garlic scape pesto, and have included swiss chard leaves in it as well.

  • Maris (In Good Taste)
    Posted at 20:54h, 24 February

    Delicious! I love pesto but I have never actually made it with walnuts. I would love to make walnut-and-arugula pesto now that spring is around the corner.

  • Deliciously Organic
    Posted at 07:02h, 25 February

    I love a good arugula pesto. Over pasta, chicken, veggies – it’s one of my favorites! Your time in Telluride looks like such fun. I hope you all come back fully rested!

  • Kristina Vanni
    Posted at 09:40h, 25 February

    Great way to use up ingredients-I love a good pesto! Looks like the perfect addition to any pasta!

  • MikeVFMK
    Posted at 12:30h, 25 February

    Love pesto and pasta. And this one looks just as good as any I’ve had. Love it Marla!

  • Cookin' Canuck
    Posted at 21:00h, 25 February

    I’ve thought of you often over the past couple of weeks, knowing you are in your favorite place in the world. This looks like a wonderful meal to come home to after a day of skiing or snowshoeing. You just can’t beat homemade pesto.

  • Sweetsugarbelle
    Posted at 22:02h, 25 February

    This is stunning. The pasta is the perfect touch because it’s totally unexpected! Beautiful dish!

  • Sara{OneTribeGourmet}
    Posted at 23:13h, 25 February

    Marla, I’m going to make this healthy & delish pasta dish for my Cardiologist hubby…he loves spinach and always preaches about omega-3 in walnuts!

  • Esi
    Posted at 14:40h, 26 February

    Love the colorful pasta!

  • Lia Huber
    Posted at 20:09h, 26 February

    Thanks for the link, Marla! Your photos are gorgeous. I also have to put in a plug for pounding pestos in a mortar and pestle. My 5-year old daughter LOVES to do it, and it doesn’t take that much more time than a food processor. In fact, there have been many times when I’ve intended to whiz, but my daughter is so enthusiastic about “helping” me in the kitchen that I pull out the mortar and pestle and let HER make the pesto instead! 😉

  • Bre
    Posted at 08:56h, 27 February

    Marla–this looks great! We must be on the same page, because I made a green pesto this week too. Kale + almonds. My kids love “special green pasta” too. I will have to try your version soon!

  • Robyn | Add a Pinch
    Posted at 06:20h, 28 February

    There is just nothing like homemade pesto. It’s like a great Little Black Dress – it just goes with everything! 🙂 I hope you had a fabulous time on your trip!

  • Cooking with Coley
    Posted at 13:12h, 02 March

    Your photography and food is so beautiful! I love visiting your website. 🙂

  • jj
    Posted at 09:51h, 14 March

    can you make this without the oil? is there a substitute for it?

    • Marla
      Posted at 10:15h, 14 March

      Hi JJ. I have never had pesto without oil 🙂

  • Susan (Our Family Eats)
    Posted at 18:53h, 18 March

    Love the idea of using spinach for a pesto sauce. So simple. Thanks for sharing this on Facebook tonight! The photos are gorgeous, the one of the ski lift almost took my breath away. 🙂

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  • Lisa
    Posted at 16:45h, 02 December

    The pesto was great! Nice cheap alternative to traditional basil and pine nut. My batch needed the juice from half a lemon- and it served 2. Thanks!

    • Marla
      Posted at 18:27h, 02 December

      Awesome Lisa!! Thanks for reporting back your success 🙂

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  • Bev
    Posted at 10:55h, 04 August

    This recipe for Spinach Pesto is awesome. I had some fresh basil growing in a container and I used half spinach and half basil…….I can’t put into words how delish this is. Thank you for the recipe.


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