Toasted Walnut Spinach Pesto Pasta

by Marla on February 24, 2012 · 55 comments

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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?

Toasted Walnut Spinach Pesto Pasta

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2-4 servings

Toasted Walnut Spinach Pesto Pasta


  • 1 cup (35 grams) packed Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1 clove fresh Garlic
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/3 cup (45 grams) Toasted Walnuts
  • splash of Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


    Toast Nuts
  • Lay nuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. They are ready when fragrant and slightly browned.
  • Pesto
  • Whiz all ingredients up in a high powered blender or food processor. Pesto will stay fresh in the fridge for a few days. Store in a tightly sealed container with some plastic wrap over the top of the pesto to help prevent browning.
  • Notes
  • This recipe is simple to make in a Big Batch, simply adjust ingredients in the using the same ratios.
  • Pecorino Romano or any other firm cheese would be great in this as well.
  • Adjust you ingredients to taste, feel free to experiment with different nuts, seeds, cheeses and flavored oils.

Pesto Recipe Links

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jenny Flake February 24, 2012 at 6:04 am

Gorgeous Marla! Looks like the perfect pesto pasta :) xoxo


2 Maria February 24, 2012 at 6:10 am

I love everything about this pasta dish! Nice!


3 Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] February 24, 2012 at 6:11 am

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


4 Marla February 24, 2012 at 7:28 am

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


5 HeatherChristo February 24, 2012 at 6:12 am

beautiful marla! and so healthy!


6 Shawna @ CheekyChicFamily February 24, 2012 at 6:15 am

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.


7 Marla February 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

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!


8 Grace@ FoodFitnessFreshair February 24, 2012 at 6:24 am

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.


9 Marla February 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

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!


10 Soma February 24, 2012 at 6:32 am

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.


11 Rosa February 24, 2012 at 6:34 am

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




12 Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free February 24, 2012 at 6:40 am

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!


13 Marla February 24, 2012 at 7:27 am

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


14 Anna February 24, 2012 at 6:42 am

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


15 Marla February 24, 2012 at 7:35 am

Anna, that pasta was actually part of my order from Black Canyon Foods You can also find those veggie corkscrews here on


16 Cassie February 24, 2012 at 6:43 am

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!


17 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking February 24, 2012 at 6:52 am

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!


18 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. February 24, 2012 at 6:54 am

yum! I am so making this


19 Shaina February 24, 2012 at 7:16 am

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


20 Erin February 24, 2012 at 7:36 am

I love using spinach in pesto! Looks delicious!


21 Liz February 24, 2012 at 8:02 am

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


22 Angie February 24, 2012 at 8:36 am

Love this pesto recipe!


23 Lucy February 24, 2012 at 8:36 am

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


24 Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga February 24, 2012 at 9:03 am

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 :)


25 Katie {} February 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

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


26 Erin @ Brownie Bites February 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

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!


27 Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers February 24, 2012 at 10:30 am

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


28 susan February 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

I love pesto of any kind! Pretty pasta!


29 Bev Weidner February 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

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




30 Bria @ West of Pesia February 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

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 :-)


31 Jen at The Three Little Piglets February 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm

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!


32 aida mollenkamp February 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

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


33 Jeanette February 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm

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


34 Maris (In Good Taste) February 24, 2012 at 8:54 pm

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.


35 Deliciously Organic February 25, 2012 at 7:02 am

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!


36 Kristina Vanni February 25, 2012 at 9:40 am

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


37 MikeVFMK February 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm

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


38 Cookin' Canuck February 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

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.


39 Sweetsugarbelle February 25, 2012 at 10:02 pm

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


40 Sara{OneTribeGourmet} February 25, 2012 at 11:13 pm

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!


41 Esi February 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Love the colorful pasta!


42 Lia Huber February 26, 2012 at 8:09 pm

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! 😉


43 Bre February 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

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!


44 Robyn | Add a Pinch February 28, 2012 at 6:20 am

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!


45 Cooking with Coley March 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

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


46 jj March 14, 2012 at 9:51 am

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


47 Marla March 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

Hi JJ. I have never had pesto without oil :)


48 Susan (Our Family Eats) March 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm

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. :)


49 Lisa December 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

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!


50 Marla December 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Awesome Lisa!! Thanks for reporting back your success :)


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