Spinach Pesto Pasta as Green as the Season | Carson Tahoe Health

Nancy Horn, owner of Dish Cafe and Catering and writer for the RGJ’s “Dish it Up” series, asked Carson Tahoe Health’s Registered Dietician, Kim Mason, for a nutritional analysis of one of her favorite recipes. Go green with this delicious pesto pasta recipe, just in time for Earth Day!

Dish it Up Green Pasta – Ingredients
1 teaspoon kosher salt for the pasta, plus a couple pinches for the cooking water

6-8 ounces organic washed baby spinach

Handful of fresh basil, about 10 leaves

2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and minced

4 ounces pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan (this takes just a minute)

1/2 teaspoon or more freshly ground black pepper

High quality olive oil

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (use a microplane grater), plus more for garnish

1 pound box dried angel hair pasta (I like Barilla brand, especially the high-protein version in the yellow box)

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pinches of salt.

To a blender or food processor (or even a Magic Bullet), add spinach, basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, the 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Ingredients’ volume will significantly decrease, so don’t worry about overstuffing you vessel. Slowly stream in olive oil as you blend or process, doing so until sauce is smooth and liquidy.

Once this consistency is achieved, stop blending and add cheese. Blend to incorporate fully, then taste. Add more salt and/or pepper and/or olive oil, as needed, and blend again. Heat large serving bowl (1 minute in microwave or fill with hot water a few minutes) and pour half the sauce into bottom of bowl.

Cook the angel hair about 3-4 minutes (do not walk away; angel hair pasta cooks quickly), tasting for doneness and texture. Remove pasta from the pot with tongs, leaving the pasta water in the pot, and transfer pasta to serving bowl.

Using tongs or wooden spoons, gently mix pasta with the sauce in the bottom of the bowl, adding more sauce, if you like. I used all of the sauce, which absorbed into the hot pasta. I also added a little pasta cooking water to make the sauce a bit more saucy and flavorful. Serve right away with more cheese and freshly ground pepper. Serves 6.

Nutrition information per serving: 312 calories (54 percent from fat, 14 percent from protein, 32 percent from carbohydrates); 11 g protein; 20 g total fat; 4 g saturated fat; 7 g monounsaturated fat; 27 g carbohydrates; 6 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 238 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 656 mg sodium; 10 mg cholesterol.

Nutrition analysis provided by Kim Mason, R.D., L.D., M.S., nutrition care manager, Carson Tahoe Health, Carson City