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In Peru, tallarines verde is made with spinach not basil
Milk Street Bowtie Pasta with Peruvian Pesto (Tallarines Verde)

Pasta with Peruvian Pesto (Tallarines Verde)

Appears in March-April 2017

45 minutes

Pasta with Peruvian Pesto (Tallarines Verde)

Free

The origin of Peruvian pesto, or tallarines verdes, dates to the 19th century, when a wave of Italian immigrants settled in Peru. Many came from Genoa—the birthplace of pesto—and they adapted the recipe to the available ingredients. A shocking amount of spinach replaces the basil, and crumbled queso fresco supplements (and sometimes entirely replaces) salty Parmesan cheese. “It became a kind of dialogue or maybe a love story” between two worlds, says Gastón Acurio, Peruvian culinary star, founder of the La Mar restaurants, and champion of his country’s food. For bright color and fresh flavor, we pureed ¾ pound of spinach for this pesto, along with onion and garlic. A quick simmer in a skillet took the raw edge off the onion and spinach, giving a depth and complexity lacking in traditional raw Italian pestos. Once the sauce thickened, we added reserved pasta cooking water, followed by undercooked pasta. The starch-infused water gave the pesto body, and the pasta finished cooking in the sauce, absorbing more of its flavor.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t be alarmed if the skillet seems very full after adding the pasta. Use tongs to gently lift and stir the noodles, and a rubber spatula to scrape the edges of the pan.

45 minutes

12 ounces linguine or fettuccine
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 small)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
12 ounces baby spinach (about 12 cups)
¼ cup heavy cream
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (about 1 cup)
Lime wedges, to serve
Ingredients
  • 12

    ounces linguine or fettuccine

  • 1

    cup chopped yellow onion (1 small)

  • ½
  • ¼

    cup water

  • 3

    garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 12

    ounces baby spinach (about 12 cups)

  • ¼

    cup heavy cream

  • 2

    ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

  • 4

    ounces queso fresco, crumbled (about 1 cup)

  • Lime wedges, to serve

Add Flavor To Grains Thumbnails

MILK STREET BASICS

How to Add Flavor to Grains

Pasta Water Hero Image

Tuesday Nights

Save that pasta water

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Pasta with Peruvian Pesto (Tallarines Verde)

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

45 minutes

Tip

Don’t be alarmed if the skillet seems very full after adding the pasta. Use tongs to gently lift and stir the noodles, and a rubber spatula to scrape the edges of the pan.

Ingredients
  • 12

    ounces linguine or fettuccine

  • 1

    cup chopped yellow onion (1 small)

  • ½
  • ¼

    cup water

  • 3

    garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 12

    ounces baby spinach (about 12 cups)

  • ¼

    cup heavy cream

  • 2

    ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

  • 4

    ounces queso fresco, crumbled (about 1 cup)

  • Lime wedges, to serve

Add Flavor To Grains Thumbnails

MILK STREET BASICS

How to Add Flavor to Grains

Pasta Water Hero Image

Tuesday Nights

Save that pasta water

Step 1 of 3

Cook the pasta

12
ounces linguine or fettuccine

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook until just tender but not fully cooked, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1½ cups of the cooking water.

Step 2 of 3

Process the spinach mixture

1
cup chopped yellow onion (1 small)
½
cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼
cup water
3
garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1
teaspoon kosher salt
1
teaspoon ground black pepper
12
ounces baby spinach (about 12 cups)

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the onion, oil, ¼ cup water, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add a third of the spinach and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining spinach in 2 batches, processing until smooth after each.

Step 3 of 3

Cook the spinach mixture, coat, and serve

¼
cup heavy cream
2
ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
4
ounces queso fresco, crumbled (about 1 cup)
Lime wedges, to serve

Transfer the spinach mixture to a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.


Add the reserved pasta water and return to a simmer, then add the pasta and stir to coat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and the pesto no longer appears watery, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream.


Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with the queso fresco and serve with lime wedges.

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