Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spinach Linguine with Basil Cilantro Pesto and Artichokes

There's something about basil that I just love. I don't know if its the unique peppery taste or that fact that its so healthy for you. Basil is loaded in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and phosphorus. This will help in improving the health of the cardiovascular system, eyesight and help maintain healthy skin and hair. If you can find it, I suggest purchasing hydroponic basil, meaning that it was grown in water. I noticed that hydroponic basil tastes so much fresher and lasts a lot longer than basil that is grown in the soil. This is probably because it comes with its roots still in tack, allowing the plant to stay alive longer.

My favorite ways to eat basil is to add it directly to pizza with fresh slices of tomatoes or to create yummy pesto out of it. I never thought of adding cilantro to a pesto until I read this recipe from Veganomicon. The cilantro and the basil goes very well together and the sliced almonds help to give the pesto a little crunch. I would say that it took me 30 minutes to make this, not including the clean up time. So worth it, considering this dish looks and tastes like I spent much more time on it. I hope you all have a chance to try this recipe out. Its well worth it!

Serves 4
( Consider making the pesto while you wait for the noodle water to boil to help cut down on time needed )

* 1/2 lb spinach linguine
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 medium-size red onion, sliced into thin half moons
* 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 2 Tb white cooking wine, vegetable broth, or water
* 1/2 tsp salt
* Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
* 1 recipe Basil-Cilantro Pesto ( see below )
* 1 ( 15 oz ) can artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in half ( don't use the jarred kind in oil, it's expensive and too oily for this; get the kind that comes in brine )

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the linguine according to the package directions, usually about 10 minutes. Once you've added the pasta to the water, proceed with the recipe.
2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and saute the onion in olive oil until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Add the white wine, salt, and pepper and cook for another minute or two. Lower the heat to low. At this point, the linguine should be done.
3. When the linguine is ready, don't drain it. Use a pasta spoon to transfer it to the pan in batches. This is a good method because you can use the pasta water to thin out the pesto and make sure that everything gets evenly coated. When you add one batch, add a bit of the pesto, too, and using the pasta spoon, saute to coat. Proceed with the rest of the pasta and pesto until you've added all of it. If it seems dry, add extra splashes of pasta water.
4. Add the artichoke hearts and toss to coat. Cook gently over low heat just until the artichokes are heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately!

Basil Cilantro Pesto


* 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
* 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
* 1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 2 Tb fresh lemon juice ( from about 1/2 lemon )
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Place the basil, cilantro, almonds, garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and blend until pasty, scraping down the sides occasionally.
2. With the food processor on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend until relatively smooth and no large chunks of almonds are left. If you don't have a food processor and are using a blender, then just add the olive oil at the end, since many blenders aren't equipped with an opening to drizzle into.


  1. cilantro and basil pesto!? i should try it!

  2. Ooh Jacklyn, I love the idea of cilantro pesto. I've thought to make it before, but somehow never do. This dish makes me want to...

  3. make it! its very easy and well worth it!

  4. Sounds delicious! I love basil. We have some growing in the garden, but the sprouts from seeds are taking way too long. Fortunately, we bought a couple of plants, as well. There really is no going back once you've had fresh basil :)

  5. I made it! I looooove the idea to put fresh lemon juice.
    I added my own touches.