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Spaghetti al pesto with tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and tongs in a glass bowl.

Healthy spaghetti al pesto

  • Author: Denise
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Spaghetti al pesto, a refreshing trio of healthy pesto blended with basil, spinach, lemon, garlic, and pine nuts, teamed up with blanched tomatoes.



  • 8 oz. (227 gm.) dry spaghetti or other pasta of your choice
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, rinsed
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 cups basil leaves and tender stems
  • 3 cups spinach leaves
  • 3 of cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters
  • 3-4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt


  1. In a large pot, start the water for the pasta.
  2. Heat a small or medium-heavy skillet or pan with a heavy bottom to medium-high. Add the ¼ cup of pine nuts and toast them. Stir them often until they start to brown (about 1 ½ - 2 minutes).
  3. Remove them from the heat and add them to a food processor or blender.
  4. Add the basil, spinach, garlic, 3 of tablespoons of lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon of salt (if using) to the food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more lemon juice to taste.
  5. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. When the pasta is 2 minutes from being done, add the cherry tomatoes. Cook until the pasta is tender but firm.
  6. Before draining the pasta, dip a cup in and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Now, drain, but do not rinse, the pasta and tomatoes and add it to a serving dish or bowl.
  7. Mix in the pesto. Then mix in 2 Tbsp. of the pasta water. If the pasta is a bit dry, add more cooking water.
  8. Serve warm.
  9. Garnish with lemon wedges, torn or chopped basil, or Parmesan.


  • Pay attention to the pine nuts when toasting. The minute they start to brown, remove them from the heat. They burn easily.
  • You should end up with about 1 ½ cups of pesto. The actual amount depends on the exact amounts of basil and spinach and the amount of lemon juice you use.
  • The standard guideline is 2 ounces (56 gm.) of dry spaghetti per person per serving. That's approximately the diameter of a quarter. Alternatively,  use the hole in your pasta spoon as a guide. 
  • The starch from the pasta helps the pesto adhere to it. For this reason, you want to use cooking water rather than tap water to moisten the pasta.
  • Category: Main courses
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: spaghetti al pesto

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