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

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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  • Reply sreebindu February 27, 2012 at 1:15 am

    love the recipe totally =) and Ur not alone in that category add me too. I did once in my tenth. obviously caught very badly. my mom didn’t speak to me whole week ๐Ÿ™

  • Reply Margherita @TheIronYou February 27, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Yum! A pesto with spinach and queso fresco instead of parmesan…that’s really interesting. Also, I never thought of using evaporated milk, smart!
    I’m definitely going to try this one.
    Great recipe, thanks for sharing

  • Reply Emilia February 27, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I think everyone tried to forge their parent’s signature at some point, what impressed me were the kids who used the same fake note over and over, insane!
    This pasta looks delicious, I cannot wait to make it for my family. It looks like a perfect example of sophisticated comfort food, yum ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Adrianna February 27, 2012 at 9:56 am

      They’d fake the same note?! Amateurs!

  • Reply Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga February 27, 2012 at 1:53 am

    I forged my mom’s signature all the time as a kid…there were times she actually told me it was okay. That sounds awful but there were so many little permission slips and this and that’s to sign and sometimes I’d forget and rather than calling her at her work to drive to my school to sign something for me, I’d just sign for her. Ha!

    Love the green noodles!

  • Reply Blog is the New Black February 27, 2012 at 2:05 am

    YUM! Sort of like peso spaghetti…. delish!

  • Reply Laura February 27, 2012 at 2:39 am

    This looks so good – I do a similar thing, with black spaghetti and smoked salmon (plus a dollop of creme fraiche)… the bright orange salmon totally off sets against the black spaghetti and tastes divine.

    From London,
    Laura x

    • Reply debbie January 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Laura:

      Would you mind giving me your recipe for black spaghetti? Sounds different.


    • Reply Charlie March 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Hi Laura, your Black Spaghetti recipe sounds good. May I have the recipe please? Thank you and have a great day. Charlie

  • Reply marissa @ the boot February 27, 2012 at 3:01 am

    wow, what an amazing thing. peruvian pesto! i have never heard it but now it will be going in my repertoire. thank you! and yes, i forged all the time! i still have catholic guilt about it.

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island February 27, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I’m always up for a new take on pesto, and this version is looks even more fresh and bright than the Italian kind.. I love the shot of the pasta going into the pool of green, great post!

  • Reply Joss February 27, 2012 at 3:57 am

    This looks delicious – the pesto looks so vibrant! I love the story too ๐Ÿ˜‰ Moms are the best!

  • Reply Paula from Vintage kitchen Notes February 27, 2012 at 4:00 am

    I forged my father signature many times when I was going to school in California. I had to get out of going to volleyball practice. I had to choose between two sports and hated both so …
    This is just my kind of recipe; green pasta just appeals to me. Will make it tonight. Love a chance to use queso fresco as part of a sauce. Itยดs usually a slice on toast or on quince paste!

  • Reply Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar February 27, 2012 at 4:10 am

    This sounds delightful! I can’t wait to try!

  • Reply Heather (Heather's Dish) February 27, 2012 at 4:45 am

    i love the minimal ingredients…and it looks SO gorgeous!

  • Reply Elle @ CHellbellz February 27, 2012 at 5:43 am

    This looks super yummy, and I can taste it through the screen, and I’m also thinking a nice piece of Chicken thats grilled and charred a little bit. sliced on top! It’s so easy to throw everything in the blender as well.

    • Reply Adrianna February 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Chicken would be super good.

  • Reply sarah February 27, 2012 at 6:13 am

    I can’t wait to try this. I’m so hungry for this, and a steak now.

  • Reply Nicole Franzen February 27, 2012 at 6:14 am

    yum that looks really good. thats all ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Shawna @ CheekyChicFamily February 27, 2012 at 6:21 am

    That is such an interesting dish. I’ll have to try it some time.

  • Reply Dana B @ thebakingbooth February 27, 2012 at 6:22 am

    This looks wonderful and I love queso fresco!! This recipe is for this week most definitely. thx!!

  • Reply Margarita February 27, 2012 at 6:33 am

    My mom’s wasn’t so hard to forge so I got lucky there. Lol! This looks delicious. I love queso fresco.

  • Reply Bev Weidner February 27, 2012 at 7:09 am

    This is incredible.

    And I love that you said “my eggs were frozen.” You know some women pay LOTS of money for that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Reply Adrianna February 27, 2012 at 9:57 am


  • Reply Ursula Garcia February 27, 2012 at 7:50 am

    As soon as I saw the name I knew it was Peruvian! I’m from Peru and I make this all the time, but I don’t use the queso fresco. It’s my son’s favorite.

    • Reply kasandra October 10, 2018 at 9:18 am

      is this dish orginally from peru?

  • Reply Kelsey February 27, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Love the hue. Anything green, I’m sold. Moms rule. Thank her for sharing this : )

  • Reply Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy February 27, 2012 at 8:03 am

    This looks delicious! I have tried to forge my mothers signature, it never looked right.

  • Reply Mary February 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

    What an unusual dish! This is my first visit to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    • Reply Adrianna February 27, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Welcome. Glad you’re here! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply brooklynite (I Can be Jell-O) February 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

    looks good! are the pine nuts just sprinkled on top then? The recipe says to toast them in the beginning but doesn’t say what you do with them later. They’re so expensive that it would be great to avoid their use, and just stick to the sauce. What do you think?

    • Reply Adrianna February 27, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Blah! Let me add it to the recipe. They’re added to the sauce in the blender. I buy mine at Whole Foods in the bulk bin. And I only buy what I need. Instead of buying a $10 bag, I end up spending like $1 on a small handful. You could always skip them in this recipe.

      • Reply Gina March 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm

        I can attest to this, a small 2 oz package of pine nuts can run around 8 bucks!! I got the same amount in bulk for 3 bucks.

  • Reply Nina @ ambrosia February 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Italian pesto is one of my favorites ways to enjoy pasta, but this version with spinach looks really fantastic. I don’t know why this idea had never occurred to me myself!

  • Reply Justice Fergie February 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

    hi! i usually read your posts via email but i just had to pop online today to let you know how much i love them ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s so nice to read a food blog that adds stories behind the recipes. and um, i had a mom that you didn’t want to mess with either – she didn’t play! let’s just say my sister and I were afraid of her wooden spoon. but, like you, now she is my bestie – i called her from the grocery store this morning to ask for her Chimichurri recipe!

    • Reply Adrianna February 27, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Aw! Yay! Glad you like. xox

  • Reply Pooja February 27, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Wow, this looks seriously amazing, makes me wish I had evap milk and basil at home right now so that I could make it for dinner. Will have to do this soon! Plus, I love the bright green color!

  • Reply Inรฉs February 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Adrianna, delicious dish, great pictures and the sweetest story behind it…thank you for sharing!
    Hope youโ€™re having a great start to the week

    Big hugs!

  • Reply [email protected] February 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Delicious! I will definitely have to try that version of pesto, it looks great!

  • Reply Nik February 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

    This is so up my ally. Delicious! Can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply Anna @ the shady pine February 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Loved this post…I too am guilty of doing the same and was caught out by my mum! I love the colour of this dish….so vibrant and it sound delicious!

  • Reply NicoleD February 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

    This sounds incredibly delicious! My Mom had the more complicated signature by far, but my Dad’s was much easier. I remember signing it once, but cannot at all remember the circumstances, ha. Can you imagine the Downton Abbey signatures?!? I definitely lol’d to your Matthew Crawley comment on Twitter the other day ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Adrianna February 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

      I want to marry Matthew Crawley. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply erin @ yummy supper February 27, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Adrianna, I am so into your green spaghetti. Anything that’s at all pesto-esque is my kinda thing! And I find the creamy additions of queso fresco and the evaporated milk to be so interesting. Talk about comfort food!

  • Reply Kelly February 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    This looks fantastic, I love this! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Spongedrop February 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    I am so gonna make this! It looks deliciously green and good. No forging stories to tell although I do remember trying to mimic their signatures but I think it was more for fun (odd things are fun when you’re a kid) as opposed to sneaking something by them. My parents pretty much signed anything, in a good way not in a neglectful way! Being the third kid I think they were basically used to whatever!

  • Reply Villy @ For the love of Feeding February 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Oh, this looks delicious!!

  • Reply joelle (on a pink typewriter) February 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    LOVE this story. I used to adore my mom’s handwriting and STILL wish I wrote like her.

  • Reply Kelsey @aslolife February 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Love hearing about the history–this looks great!

  • Reply Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious February 28, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I’m so intrigued by this green! It kind of reminds of pesto – but with more cheesy goodness. So it’s pretty much pesto on crack. Yup. Have to try this soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Margaret February 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

    My signature looks so much like my mother’s…hummmm, wonder why that could be!
    Your recipe looks delish and your story was delightful. I found your site on Stumble! and I will definitely be back to check in!

    • Reply Adrianna February 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      Yay! Glad you’re here, Margaret.

  • Reply [email protected] February 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

    What a cute story and what a great mama you have! I’m going to save this to make on St. Patty’s day! So green and pretty!

  • Reply Let Me Eat Cake February 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

    yum city! when are you going to cook for me? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Adrianna February 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm

      Say the word, lady!

  • Reply Elizabeth @ chronic venture February 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    this looks so pretty!

  • Reply ileana February 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Brill. What does that version of pesto taste like?

  • Reply Sunny February 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    This photographs so beautifully! I can’t wait to make some of your green recipes, ’tis the season. I’m ready for summer, when the colors really start to pop. Look forward to reading more from you!

  • Reply Nik February 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Just made this tonight and it was super yums!

    • Reply Adrianna February 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      High five!!

  • Reply Karla February 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I’m Peruvian and Tallarines Verdes is probably my all time favorite dish, so happy to see this recipe on here! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Bowls of Pesto Pasta Goodness « Barefoot + Smitten February 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    […] delicious and witty charm. I just love all her stories and recipes. Last night, I made her “Green Spaghetti aka Tallarines Verde“. She had me at spinach pesto, honestly. I just love spinach pestos. Okay, I just love […]

  • Reply sfcasun February 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    This was delicious! I did very, very briefly blanch the spinach and basil (then shocked in cold water and squeezed of excess water), and used less evaporated milk and oil, since the spinach and basil had lost volume.

    • Reply Adrianna March 1, 2012 at 11:37 am

      So glad to hear this! Truly!

  • Reply Lisa @ The Cooking Bride March 1, 2012 at 11:43 am

    What an interesting meal! Will have to give it a try.

    My dad is 6’2″ and weighs probably close to 300 pounds. He terrified me when I was a kid without ever having to lay a finger on me. Of course, now that I am an adult, he’s one of my best buds and a lot of fun.

  • Reply Laura Tosto March 2, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I made your Tallarines Verde last night for dinner along side roasted squash and grape tomatoes, it was super yummy. My sauce was not as bright green as yours, but delicious none the less. It made more than enough to coast pasta for 6. I am eating leftovers for lunch today!

    • Reply Adrianna March 2, 2012 at 11:41 am

      High five!

  • Reply Gina March 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I made this recipe tonight and it turned out fabulous!!! The store didn’t carry queso fresco though so I subbed with Feta. I also charred and peeled a poblano pepper and threw it into the blender. The pepper gave it a great verde flavor and a nice mild spicy pop that blended well with the other flavors.

    • Reply Adrianna March 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      This is so great to hear. I love your substitutions. I’ve never had this with feta cheese, so it’s awesome to know that it works!

  • Reply Elena March 6, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Your recipe looks really tasty and I like your substitution.
    Here in Italy we have different kinds of pesto. Try the rucola salad instead of the spinach!
    I’m going to try your recipe. Thanks!

  • Reply Lucie (Thursday Night Dinner) March 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

    i love pesto so i cant wait to try this peruvian twist!

  • Reply Maria @ Orchard Bloom March 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I lived in Peru for 8 months and made tallarines verde all the time. I’d totally forgotten about it till now. Thanks for reminding me!

  • Reply Paula from Vintage kitchen Notes March 9, 2012 at 2:08 am

    I made this recipe twice already. Itยดs so good; the ingredients just combine perfectly. Never really used evaporated milk for savory food and itยดs a great change from cream based sauces. Iยดm glad Peruvian cooking is coming out of hiding for good.

  • Reply alina March 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    ~Hey absolutly looooved this recipe…gonna try it sooon…love all ur recipies

  • Reply Karla March 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    I’m peruvian and this is one of my favorite dishes, it’s even tastier when you do a little saute of onions, garlic, paprika and cumin and you blend that with boiled basil and spinach but it have to be cold so you can blend it with the evaporated milk and then it’s not necesary the cheese you just have to boiled a little bit the green sauce and mix it with the pasta, it’s AWESOME. You should try this version of the Tallarines Verdes.

  • Reply Kaleena March 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    OMG! I’ve been hunting for a Tallarines Verdes recipe for months. My Peruvian abuelita wouldn’t share her recipe! This is the closest I’ve had to her cooking. I LOVE that you have so many Peruvian recipes, it brings back tastes from my childhood.

    • Reply Adrianna March 15, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      So awesome! Hope you love them!

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  • Reply Alanna April 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Made this last night for dinner – absolutely delicious. Added some crispy squares of bacon. Thanks for a killer recipe! I made a big batch, so we’ll be eating this for days. Yay!

    • Reply Adrianna April 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      High five! Cool.

  • Reply Makenzie ann December 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Mmmm okay this looks amazing. I was thinking about renaming my blog green spaghetti and stumbled upon your blog!!! I’ll be checking back for more recipeeees ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Adrianna December 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Ha! That’s awesome.

  • 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?

  • 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • 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 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 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.

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