Green Spaghetti (a.k.a Tallarines Verde)

Dinner, Pasta

Did you ever forge your mother’s signature? I did. Once. And of course I got caught. Duh. That’s how it always goes.

I was 10 years old and got a detention. I’m not afraid to say that my mama scared me when I was little. I didn’t mess with her. So I figured it’d be way easier and less terrifying to just forge her pretty yet complicated signature. She did (and still does) have a really beautiful signature. Think writing out of Downton Abbey (I’m obsessed!).

So, I sat in my room and practiced and practiced and practiced. After about a hundred attempts I totally nailed it. Feeling successful, I turned in the signed detention and started serving my time. I was having fun, actually. The teacher who supervised detention didn’t have anything under control and I remember laughing and joking with kids in the back of the room. It got sort of quiet for some reason and I remember hearing high heels clacking down the hall. At the door was my mama, looking super sharp in a business lady suit, giving me a glare that was SO scary. OMG did I stop laughing. She was truly terrifying.

My mom left me in detention and made me walk home. I remember that loooong walk home and thinking: “I’M JUST GONNA RUN AWAY AND THEN THEY’RE GONNA BE SOOOOO SORRY.”

I went home, faced the music. I was grounded. And then my mom started signing her name in a different way, more complicated, more detailed. ‘Til this day she signs it all crazy-like. I’m to blame.

Nowadays my mama is the total opposite of scary. She’s my bestie. I called her late one night like at 11pm asking her for this recipe. It was one of my favorites growing up. It’s another green Peruvian recipe.

You could call it a pesto, because it sort of is, except there are major differences between this and an Italian pesto.

First, instead of Parmesan you have salty, delicious queso fresco. And to make it a tad creamier, and less oily, there’s the use of evaporated milk. Rather than just basil, there’s a mix of 3 cups spinach and 2 cups basil. My mom told me that in Peru they use more spinach than basil because the basil there is incredibly strong. Foreign facts, I like ’em.

This meal is traditionally served with a few potatoes and a steak. I actually bought a little steak to serve on the side but my refrigerator is broken and has decided to freeze everything. It’s weird. My eggs were frozen yesterday morning. Whatever.

With or without a steak this plate of green spaghetti is just perfect.

Green Spaghetti

Print this recipe!

Handful of pine nuts
3 cups spinach leaves
2 cups basil leaves
1 cup cubed queso fresco (6 ounces)
1/4 cups evaporated milk, plus 2 tablespoons
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons canola oil
Salt
Pasta

1. Add the pine nuts to a small skillet set over medium-heat. Toast them for 2 minutes and until lightly golden brown on each side.

2. To a blender, add the toasted pine nuts, spinach, basil, queso fresco, garlic and evaporated milk. Blend for 30 seconds and until mostly smooth. In a steady stream, with the blender on, add the canola oil until thoroughly combined. Queso fresco tends to be quite salty. Salt to taste now after everything is blended. I ended up adding about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in well salted water. In a medium-skillet, heat up the pesto; transfer the cooked pasta to the pesto and toss.

Serves 4

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92 Comments

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  • Reply Rebecca December 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I just tried this and the basil was overwhelming. I felt like it was missing something. I would say this was very bitter.

  • Reply Mi Vida en un Dulce August 3, 2013 at 7:13 am

    At home, we make this pesto also with some pecans, it give a very special touch. Of course this is a family recipe and each family in Peru has it’s own.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme August 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

      This is very true. I should add the walnuts sometimes soon. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Renee April 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    So I googled tallarin verdes, as I am making a big birthday dinner for my Peruvian boyfriend and his family. His grandmother has taught me many recipes so I take on a lot of others that he asks for that I haven’t learned at her hand. However, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the “Peruvian”
    Pesto recipes were calling for spinach too. Low and behold your blog popped up, funny, because I read it, but must have missed this entry…what a funny coincidence. I just read your blog entry today…thanks!!

    • Reply Adrianna April 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm

      Oh hahha. Yep! I really need to put a Peruvian section in the recipe index since I think some of these kinds of recipes get lost. Hope your boyfriend’s family loves this. To make it even more authentic, put a piece of steak on top of the bed of spaghetti. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Renee April 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        There was a huge debate between his father and sister whether it should be steak or chicken…I was like how about the birthday boy decides…thanks again!

  • Reply taylor January 23, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Adrianna, what cheese would you suggest to sub for the queso fresco? I have some goat cheese in the fridge. What do you think?

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