This is another classic recipe I ate in my mom’s house in Perú. There was always some Peruvian Pesto (aka salsa verde) frozen in a container waiting for a fresh batch of pasta. They’ve been my obsession for many years and along the way it became the obsession of several friends as well.
Salsa verde is our version of pesto that has only a small amount of basil and lots of spinach along with milk and “queso fresco” or fresh cheese. Also at my mom’s house they add walnuts and crackers because of course every house and restaurant have their own recipe.
The ideal paring for this pasta sauce is a beef Milanese or even a chicken Milanese. But to be honest I mostly eat it own its own and just have doubles haha.
To finish this dish I grated parmesan cheese on top because I love it, but some people top it with extra fresh cheese cut in cubes and it works great too. If you can’t find fresh cheese where you are you can replace it for a firm ricotta or feta cheese.
This sauce is creamy, tasty and so green it must be Hulk’s favourite dish. As I mentioned previously you can freeze it and it lasts 3 weeks frozen.
- olive oil to cook
- 2 garlic cloves grated, minced or puréed
- 30 g basil leaves
- 250 g spinach
- 160 g "queso fresco" or fresh cheese can be light or replaced with a firm ricotta or feta cheese
- 8 toasted walnuts
- 20 g crackers
- 180 ml milk can be whole, skimmed, lactose free, or vegetable
- salt and pepper to taste
- pasta cooked al dente
- parmesan cheese to serve
- Remove the stalk from the spinach. This is done by folding the leave in half towards the front, exposing the stalk at the back. Grab it close to the stalk and pull from the bottom all the way to the top. The stalk will be removed along with the fiber all along the leaf. For further reference watch the video above.
- Wash the spinach leaves extra carefully because they tend to have earth on them. Also wash the basil leaves.
- Cook the garlic with a bit of olive oil on medium heat for about a minute stirring it constantly to remove its strong taste. Remove it from the pan and reserve.
- On the same pan add extra olive oil and increase the heat to max.
- Once hot, add the basil and spinach leaves all at once and immediately add about a teaspoon and a half of salt to them to help them stay intensely green. Mix and cook only a few seconds until everything is nice and soft. Be careful not to overcook them because they grow darker.
- Remove from the pan without the liquid they released.
- Put all the ingredients in the blender, squeezing the leaves before adding them. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Heat in a pan and mix with pasta cooked al dente.