Winter Pesto with Pasta

Winter Pesto, made with spinach and just a touch of basil

Snow Days. Mid-week, they’re life-slowing brakes that kids crave and grown-ups part-welcome, part-dread.

But if snowy days are good for snowboot and sled sales, snow days can also be gentle reminders of why the place we most want to be is called ‘home’ and how little control, really, we exert in our lives.

So give in. Be with the snow.

Once the flakes begin to transform our familiar neighborhoods into other-worlds, stop, watch, listen.

And as the white mantle muffles and then silences, fill a pot with cider, pull out the Monopoly box, dust off that get-around-to-it-soon novel by the bed. Make soup, bake cookies. If you must, clean the basement, organize a closet.

But for a few hours, a day or two at most, your life belongs to the snow.

Soon enough, it will be yours again. The plow will move through, the drive will need shoveling. And life, again, will move full speed.

ALANNA's TIPS WINTER PESTO is a natural with hot pasta. But how about as a pizza topping? Or smeared on steaks sizzled on the grill? Or stirred into scrambled eggs? Or spooned into vegetable soup? Or spread thin on nutty toast? Or tossed with roasted cauliflower? The list is as long as your imagination! Bags of pre-toasted nuts are available now, priced the same or slightly higher. Or toast your own at 400F for 5 – 10 minutes but keep a close eye on the oven for the shift from toast to burnt happens in a blink.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Have a versatile pasta sauce in your repertoire? Send a recipe to e-mail.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time-to-table: 30 minutes
Makes 1½ cups pesto (enough for 1½ pounds pasta)
  • Dried or fresh pasta (2 ounces per serving)

  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • About 5 ounces (4 cups) fresh spinach
  • 1 cup (or more) good grated Parmesan
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons good olive oil

Bring salted water to a boil. It takes 20 minutes to make the pesto, so time the pasta so it’ll finish cooking then. Drain, return pasta to hot pan.

Blend all pesto ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth, cleaning sides occasionally. Add olive oil a tablespoon at a time until pesto achieves consistency of creamy peanut butter.

Toss pesto with hot pasta, about ½ cup for every 8 ounces of pasta.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (4 side dish servings from ½ cup pesto, 8 ounces pasta) Per Serving: 351Cal; 14g Tot Fat; 43g Carb; 3g Fiber; 247mg Sodium; 61mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 8 points (Pesto only) Per Tablespoon: 67 Cal; 6g Tot Fat; 1g Carb; 1g Fiber; 118mg Sodium; 4mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

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(click a photo for a recipe)
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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. hello - know this recipe was posted some time ago, but i needed a cabbage recipe, so i decided to try cabbage with winter pesto.

    i LOOOOOVVVVEEEEE this pesto. it is rich, but it is delicious. i'm serving it to my non-gluten-allergic husband tonight over egg noodles!


  2. Isn't it GREAT?! And so easy, too. It is rich but I love it in small dollops for it really packs flavor. THANK YOU for making my day!!


  3. Alanna: fresh or dried herbs in the pesto?

  4. Leslie - Dried, it's winter! (But thanks for asking, that's a detail that I often missed in early columns.)

  5. Anonymous9/22/2008

    I get a different point amount when I use my on-line calculator!!! I am not sure if your points are right,,
    how do you get your points info??

  6. Which version are you questioning? The pesto with the pasta or just the pesto? I do see that the pesto itself alone should be one point, not two -- likely the result of using the manual 'slide' calculator for a long while, it always skewed down. Now I have the math in Excel, it's never on the cusp.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna