Spinach Pesto Fusilli

Serves 4 to 6
The allure of store-bought pesto, embellished with weird ingredients and preservatives, is a mystery to me. It’s an uncomplicated sauce made with a few ingredients in a food processor! Use it in or on all sorts of things, from sandwiches, to pasta sauce, from soup to a dressing for vegetables. My version, which uses spinach rather than the traditional basil, is a clever way to eat veggies— in a healthy sauce that clings to the insides of corkscrew-shaped fusilli. You can make the pesto a couple of hours in advance.


  • 8 ounces baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound fusilli pasta


  1. Place half the spinach in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add remaining spinach and pulse to chop. Add 1/2 cup pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper to the processor and puree.
  2. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Transfer pesto to a large bowl. If making in advance, cover pesto with light coating of olive oil and cover with plastic. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente, about 6-8 minutes, or according to package instructions. Drain pasta and immediately toss with pesto.
  4. Serve pasta garnished with remaining pine nuts, grated Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.
cook's note
To toast pine nuts, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven for 10 minutes, shaking the sheet several times. (You can also do this in a toaster oven.)

Personalize Your Pesto The cheese, herb, and nut choices can all be changed to create different flavors. Just swap in equal parts of each ingredient; the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper remain the same.
• Greens: basil, cilantro, parsley, chervil, arugula, or watercress.
• Nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or macadamias.
• Cheese: Romano, Asiago, grana padana, or even Cotija.
Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list: