Light Lemon Pesto Pasta


Light, yet full of flavor, this pesto is perfect tossed with hot spaghetti for a quick dinner. It is also excellent as a pizza sauce or smeared on hot French bread. It freezes well to preserve the bounty of summer basil.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
6 servings


  • 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti

  • 4 ounces Pecorino-Romano cheese, cut into cubes

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves

  • 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves

  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti at a boil until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes; drain. Transfer spaghetti to a large bowl.

  2. Put cubed Romano cheese in the bowl of a food processor; process until coarsely grated, about 30 seconds. Put garlic into the food processor and process until the cheese and garlic are combined. Add spinach, basil, walnuts, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt; process until the mixture comes together into a thick paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

  3. With food processor running, drizzle olive oil into the mixture. Continue processing until the oil is integrated smoothly.

  4. Pour sauce over spaghetti and toss to coat.

Cook's Note:

If you have an abundance of basil, this can be made with 3 cups of loosely packed basil.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

465 Calories
17g Fat
60g Carbs
18g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 465
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 5g 24%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 337mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 60g 22%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 18g
Vitamin C 10mg 50%
Calcium 255mg 20%
Iron 4mg 19%
Potassium 327mg 7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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