This recipe is a classic in my mom’s house in Peru. There was always sauce for Tallarines Verdes (Peruvian Green Spaghetti) in the freezer waiting to be used on freshly cooked pasta. My mom’s Tallarines verdes are a personal obsession of mine and also of my school friends who always begged for the recipe. I just had to post it on the blog!
Origin of Tallarines Verdes (Peruvian Green Spaghetti)
Italian-Peruvian cuisine was born when Italians migrated to Peru. This happened first between 1810 and 1840 and the majority of them came from the Liguria region. From that same area later came another wave of migration propelled by an economic boom in the XIX century. Tallarines Verdes is what we call Peruvian pesto, adapted to ingredients readily available in Peru. In contrast to Italian pesto, it has just a bit of basil and is mostly made out of spinach. Also, parmesan cheese is replaced with queso fresco. This shares a root also with our Huancaína Sauce, too. Peruvian Green Spaghetti is often served with beef Milanese or even chicken Milanese. To be honest, in my case, I just have it on its own.
Tallarines Verdes ingredients
Tallarines Verdes or Peruvian Green Spaghetti always has spinach and a touch of basil. It also has garlic, queso fresco and pecans.
If you cannot get a hold of queso fresco, you can easily substitute it for a firm ricotta cheese or feta. At my mom’s house, they also add a few soda crackers, it’s one of those occasions where it happens in some households and not in others. If you rather skip this ingredient, try adding a bit more queso fresco. Many times, Tallarines Verdes has evaporated milk. Peruvian cuisine really loves evaporated milk for its creaminess. On a day-to-day basis, I use regular milk and even skimmed milk with a delicious result as well. If it’s a special occasion and I want my Peruvian Green Spaghetti to be extra creamy, I’ll go for evaporated milk.
¿Is this sauce ONLY for Spaghetti?
In Peruvian restaurants, you’ll notice that they always serve Tallarines Verdes with spaghetti. After all, tallarines is just another name for spaghetti! Peruvian pesto is generally served on spaghetti. At home, though, it’s all the same. When I was a kid I used to have Peruvian Green Sauce with bow ties and spirals, too. It’s a dish that’s so engrained into our daily routines that we end up using it often and kids really love it.
How long does Tallarines Verdes sauce last?
I always get asked how long does Tallarines Verdes sauce last. Refrigerated, it keeps well for about 3 days. After that, it becomes more acidic. On the other hand, it freezes really well for up to 3 months. I love to make lots of this sauce and freeze it in portions, just like my mom used to.
My mom’s Peruvian Green Spaghetti
This recipe is 100% my mom’s. It’s the one that’s always prepared in her house and the one I’ve eaten so many times since I was little. It’s now my brother and sister’s staple sauce at their home and of course in mine, too. At my house, every time that friends came over and Tallarines Verdes were served, they LOVED this recipe. I got constantly asked for the recipe. It’s always a hit also whenever I share it on my Instagram!
Serving Peruvian Pesto
To serve a dish of Tallarines Verdes, heat up the sauce in a pan and add your cooked pasta. If the sauce feels too heavy, dilute it with a bit of pasta cooking water. To serve I like to sprinkle parmesan cheese, but many people serve it with small cubes of queso fresco. That looks really cute, too! The sauce is really creamy, tasty and so green that I bet it would be Hulk’s favourite dish. I mean, what better way is there to sell this dish to a kid? This also applies to Marvel-crazed adults like me, lol.
Tallarines Verdes (Peruvian Green Spaghetti)
- Olive oil to cook
- 2 garlic cloves grated, minced or puréed
- 30 g basil leaves
- 250 g spinach
- 160 g queso fresco can be replaced with a firm ricotta or feta cheese
- 8 toasted pecans
- 20 g crackers
- 180 ml milk can be evaporated, whole, skimmed, lactose-free, or vegetable
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese to serve
- Remove the stalks 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 it from the bottom all the way to the top. The stalk will be removed along with the fibre all along the leaf. For further reference watch the video above.
- Wash the spinach leaves extra carefully because they tend to have dirt 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. 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 for only about 30 seconds or until everything is nice and wilted. Be careful not to overcook them because they turn dark and bitter.
- 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 cooked pasta. If needed, thin the sauce on the pan with the pasta's cooking liquid. Serve with parmesan cheese.