Spinach and Pistachio Pesto

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Serves Enough for 8 people

My intention today was to make a classic vegan pesto. I was making a tomato bruschetta for dinner and wanted to add some lashings of pesto to the bruschetta. I’m a cook that doesn’t really measure as I go, I love to free pour and most of the time it works.

On this particular day I popped two bunches of fresh basil into the blender with garlic, salt and nutritional yeast. My olive oil pour was on the generous side and my pesto, whilst it tasted delicious, was on the runny side. With no fresh basil left, I had to think quick. It’s often in these moments if we don’t go to ‘freak out’ mode we can create magic.

So this recipe comes as a result of thinking quick and not being afraid to experiment. I added to the pesto a bunch of raw spinach leaves and half cup of pistachio nuts and just like that my classic pesto was transformed into something even more incredible. I encourage you all to play around in the kitchen, explore new ingredients and try some new combinations. What’s the worst that can happen?

Spinach and Pistachio Pesto

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Serves Enough for 8 people


  • 2 bunches fresh basil
  • 250 grams spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw pistachio nuts


  1. Clean the spinach and pesto and drain well, ensuring all water has been removed (too much water will result in a runny pesto).
  2. Add the rest of ingredients into the blender and mix well until smooth and creamy. Pesto done!
  3. Boil the water (always add a teaspoon or two of salt to the water) and cook your favourite pasta for 10 – 15 minutes or until al dente.
  4. Strain pasta and stir through pesto. Top with your choice of Parmesan cheese. For plant-based eaters nutritional yeast works a treat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of spinach in this pesto, and how does it affect the flavour and texture compared to traditional basil-based pesto?

Spinach serves a dual purpose in this pesto. Firstly, it adds vibrant green colour to the sauce, making it visually appealing. Secondly, spinach contributes a mild earthy flavour that complements the boldness of the basil. While basil is typically the star of traditional pesto, the addition of spinach provides a subtle freshness and an extra layer of nutrients to the sauce. In terms of texture, spinach helps thicken the pesto slightly, balancing the runnier consistency that can result from using generous amounts of olive oil.

Pistachio nuts are an unconventional ingredient in pesto. What do they bring to the flavour and texture of the sauce, and are there any alternatives for those with nut allergies?

Pistachio nuts bring a unique nuttiness and a touch of sweetness to the pesto. They also impart a delightful green hue that complements the green vegetables. The nuts add a creamy texture and some granularity, contributing to the overall richness and mouthfeel of the sauce. For those with nut allergies, or if you simply prefer to avoid nuts, you can explore alternative ingredients like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), or hemp seeds. These options can provide a similar nutty flavour and creaminess without the use of nuts.

Is there a specific type of pasta that pairs particularly well with this Spinach and Pistachio Pesto, or can it be used with various pasta shapes?

This pesto is versatile and pairs well with a wide range of pasta shapes. Traditional choices like spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine work beautifully, allowing the pesto to coat the pasta evenly. You can also try it with shorter pasta shapes such as penne, farfalle (bowties), or fusilli. Additionally, it can be used with alternative pasta options like gluten-free pasta or whole wheat pasta to suit dietary preferences. The key is to cook the pasta to al dente to achieve the ideal texture.

Are there any other dishes or uses for this Spinach and Pistachio Pesto beyond pasta, such as as a sauce, dip, or spread?

Absolutely! This pesto can be a versatile addition to your kitchen. You can use it as a sauce for roasted or grilled vegetables, a topping for bruschetta or crostini, or a spread for sandwiches or wraps. It can also be stirred into risotto or used as a flavourful base for grain bowls. Be creative and explore different culinary possibilities with this delicious pesto.