6 May 2010

Spinach Peanut Pesto Pasta

Spinach Peanut Pesto Pasta or what happens when a Maharastrian meets an Italian

The Cooks Cottage was one of the first food blogs to go on my bookmarks list.Yesterday I visited that blog after ages to find an interesting Peanut Chutney with a very simple recipe -Roast handful of peanuts and grind with green chillies, tamarind puree and salt. Since I had time on hand, I went ahead with this - just that I did not use tamarind puree but used a fat pinch of Amchoor (dried mango) powder instead. The result was a very yummy chutney - somewhat moister than a podi because of the oils in the peanuts and the water given out by the chillies.
Even if you stop right here, this chutney can be mixed with plain steamed rice to make a Peanut Rice. Add a tadka of some mustard seeds, udad dal and curry leaves and it will make a protein rich rice dish to go with a raita. This peanut chutney is also a quick addition to a simple roti-sabzi meal. Also I'd love to sprinkle this on a large bowl of vegetable raita and devour it for a summer lunch.
But for me, it took a different route altogether...to Italy! I'd bought two large bunches of fresh spinach in the morning and they were cleaned, washed and chopped - waiting to be cooked. Since I was to make spinach and pasta for dinner and peanut chutney decided to jump over the dinner bandwagon - that's how this dish was born.

Spinach Pesto Pasta
Serves 2

8 cups picked, washed spinach leaves and tender stems
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp olive oil

Pasta for two people, cooked as per directions - I used whole wheat spaghetti

3 tbsp peanuts
2 green chillies
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp amchoor powder (optional)

1 tbsp dried basil

 Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large saucepan, place 1/2 cup water with a pinch of sugar and add the spinach leaves to this - allowing them to wilt on a high flame. The sugar will keep the leaves green. This will take roughly 4-5 minutes. Remove from flame and keep aside.
  2. Meanwhile keep the peanuts to roast on a medium flame for 7-8 minutes sauteeing them off and on, so that they don't burn. Once they are done, remove and cool. Grind the peanuts after they are cool with the salt, green chillies and amchoor into a fine powder. Keep aside.
  3. Boil the pasta as per instructions - drain saving some of the pasta water for later if required.
  4. In a large pan, heat the olive oil - add the minced garlic cloves and the wilted spinach - saute for a minute or so, then add the dried basil, peanut chutney and cooked pasta, tossing well to coat the pasta. Check for salt and adjust. Add fresh ground black pepper and toss gently.
  5. Serve hot or cold.
Taste wise this was fantastic - the peanut chutney complimented the spinach-garlic-basil tastes superbly. Nutrition wise also it made a lot of sense to me - adding the protein component in the form of peanuts to the carb and fibre rich spinach pasta  was a great idea. All those who watch their calories and weight usually stay away from peanuts - but in small quantities, they are rich in unsaturated fats and are actually considered to reduce belly fat!
If your kid is not allergic to nuts, this is perfect toddler food too, probably easier to eat if the pasta is a smaller one like macaroni. Our boy loved to play with the spaghetti on my plate and our idea of placing a teeny bit of spinach and pasta on every spoon of curd rice (his dinner) was a hit idea to make quick work of his dinner :)

I'm sure any other nuts like walnuts, cashews or almonds will give a new twist to this taste and that's what I'll try this with next time! Do let me know how this recipe turned out for you :)


Nupur said...

This looks just beautiful- can't go wrong with nuts and greens, and adding chillies is a great idea.

Anjali said...

He he nice twist. You just invented a Fusion pasta!

Srimathi said...

Its been a while since I visited your blog.I always liked your blog.This recipe that you have shared looks great and since you have peanuts in the pesto I am sure I will like it.

Kamini said...

This must be a marriage made in heaven! I will certainly try it!

Simran said...

A very healthy pasta...it's gone right on to my to-cook list.

I've also added you to the list of Mumbai bloggers at bombayeaters.blogspot.com

Life is beautiful!!! said...

Happy to see ur blog...Several years of blogging and many different recipes...loved ur blog :)

Nandita said...

Thanks Nupur dear girl! Hope you give it a shot.

Anjali - India mein sab fusion chalta hai :P

DO let me know when you try it Srimathi!

Kamini - truly was! Trust you to think of that beautiful phrase here!

Simran - thanks for adding me to the list - although i now live in Hyd, I'm basically a Mumbai girl and have blogged from there for over three years

Hey Manju, welcome to saffrontrail - glad you enjoyed my blog - hope to see you around!

Mansi said...

Its always hard to pull off a good Pasta dish with Spinach in it:) Adding spinach to Pesto is my secret:)your plate looks lovely Nandita:)

I'm hosting Presto Pasta Nights on my blog and this would be a great addition, if you'd be kind enough to participate!:)

Spice Rack said...

a very healthy pasta. Spinach is already healthy then you added more pesto. It's a complete healthy diet.

Sonali said...

I tried it today- it was great-thanks much! Only things slightly varied were :I used raw baby spinach and fresh basil ,lemon juice and some hot water in which pasta was boiled (flavored with oil and salt) to grind the sauce ingredients in the food processor.Then mixed with sauce with the boiled pasta.Very nice :)


Kanika said...

Oh I love your blog...ever since I stumbled on it a couple of months back, I can't get enough of it! And this dish looks perfect - tonight's dinner is sorted, since I have fresh spinach waiting to be cooked...I will use use penne though as that is my fav pasta :)

Pari said...

Awesome peanut chutney...and that pasta is so yum, quick fix for a healthy dinner :-) Thanks for the recipe ..

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