I originally made this pesto for my kids, one hectic day when I was looking for something vaguely nutritious which wouldn’t take longer than their pasta took to boil. I threw in a handful of spinach (which they refuse to eat unless it’s blitzed into obscurity), walnuts, sundried tomatoes, and extra mature cheddar. I was expecting it to be nice enough, but I never imagined it would be as delicious as it in fact was. The kids both adored it, and I’ve found myself making it multiple times for us all since then; it’s so delicious, and so much cheaper than a classic pesto Genovese. Walnuts are a fraction of the price of pine nuts, and spinach a fraction the price of basil, and that’s before we even get onto the comparison between cheddar and parmesan! I worked out that this batch, which easily feeds 4, costs £1.52, which combined with a packet of dried pasta, makes this a pretty cheap weeknight meal.
Here it’s pictured with some home-made tagliatelle, but I’ve served it with both short and long dried pasta, so I say pair it with whatever shape you like best!
Spinach, cheddar and sundried tomato pesto
- 50g walnuts
- 45g sundried tomatoes (the kind that come in oil)
- 1 clove garlic
- 40g fresh spinach
- 15g olive oil
- 45g extra mature cheddar, cut into small chunks
- Salt and black pepper
- 500g dried pasta
- Vegetarian parmesan-style cheese to serve
- Heat the oven to 180’c/160’c fan/gas mark 4.
- Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 5-8 minutes until just starting to brown. Once toasted, tip them onto a plate and leave to cool.
- In a food processor, or in a jug with a stick blender, combine the garlic, sundried tomatoes, spinach and olive oil, and blitz to a puree. Add the walnuts and cheese, and blitz again until smooth. Season well with salt and black pepper.
- Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted water, until just al dente. Take a ladleful of the starchy pasta cooking water and use it to loosen the pesto, stirring it in until the pesto looks a little creamy.
- Drain the pasta and toss with the pesto. Taste and check the seasoning, then serve immediately, with extra parmesan or cheddar cheese on top if desired.