This is delicious summertime pasta and works well on its own, or with your favorite Barbecued Chicken or Grilled Fish. I’ve got tons of basil growing in the garden and this is a great way to use it. The addition of mayonnaise helps keep the pesto from separating and turning too oily and the parsley and spinach gives it great flavor and a bright green color.
½ cup pine nuts, divided
¼ cup walnuts
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound pasta (bowtie or penne)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (about 4 ounces)
I bunch fresh Italian parsley, leaves only
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1. Toast pine nuts in small dry skillet over medium heat, until just beginning to turn golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to water, stir to separate, and cook until tender (just past al dente), about 11-12 minutes for farfalle. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain pasta, rinse briefly with cool water to stop cooking process and toss with 1 tablespoon oil, and let rest to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together: walnuts and 1/4 cup of the toasted pine nuts, garlic, basil, parsley, spinach, pepper, lemon juice, remaining 1/3 cup oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl of food processor and process until smooth. Push leaves down and scrape with rubber spatula as needed. Add parmesan cheese and mayonnaise and process until thoroughly combined.
4. In large bowl combine pasta with pesto sauce; add 1 or 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water as needed to create smooth sauce and evenly coat pasta. Add remaining pine nuts and tomatoes. Taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt and pepper if needed. Spread pasta on large serving platter and garnish with whole basil leaves.