Recipe: Tallarines verdes (Peruvian pesto pasta)

This is a revised version of the tallarines verdes recipe I posted several years ago. What’s the difference? This recipe is closer to my aunties’ recipe and features gluten-free pasta.

Like tallarines blancos, this dish was in rotation at my aunties’. The difference is that for a long period of time I didn’t like the pesto sauce but loved the white sauce. My uncle was the opposite, so on pasta day only one of us was happy. Obviously, I grew out of my pesto aversion and now love it.

Once again, I didn’t get to ask my auntie Sumi for the original recipe before she passed away. I have tweaked the current family recipe to approximate the taste I remember. My aunties used penne, I used fusilli because I think this shape works better with pesto.

Tallarines verdes (Peruvian pesto pasta)
Yield: 2-3 servings

Tallarines verdes

Ingredients

  • 1 (250g) pack gluten-free pasta, preferably fusilli (I used San Remo pulse pasta)
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup English or baby spinach
  • 75g queso fresco or feta cheese (I used goat’s feta)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to pack instructions. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
  2. Process or blend basil, spinach, cheese and parmesan, adding a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to achieved desired thickness. Season to taste.
  3. Return pasta to pot, coat with sauce (heat a bit if needed) and serve with a side salad.

Recipe: Tallarines verdes

Peruvian food is largely based in fusion. The country didn’t only receive Spanish migration, but also Chinese, African, Japanese, and Italian, among others. Of course, each population group arrived under different circumstances (conquerors, slaves, tradies, investors, regular people looking for a better life… ironic, I know), and all of them added “a bit of spice” to local cuisine.

In the particular case of Italian food, many dishes have been adapted to the taste and budget of Peruvian households. This post is about tallarines verdes (green noodles), the Peruvian version of pesto pasta. Because most Peruvians are not very fond of vegetarian dishes, many people top their tallarines verdes with a thin bistec (beef steak).

We ate this dish along with the papa a la huancaína posted yesterday.

Tallarines verdes

Yield: 5 servings

Tallarines verdes con bistec

2 tablespoons + 1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch basil
1 bunch English spinach
50 gr queso fresco, haloumi or Australian feta
50 gr Parmesan
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup milk
500 gr spaghetti
salt and pepper
5 minute steaks

Wash and pick leaves of basil and spinach.

Smash garlic cloves with the blade of your knife. Remove skin and germ.

In a large saucepan over low heat pour the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When warm, add the garlic cloves and sautée for a couple of minutes.

Add basil and spinach to the pan, sautée until the leaves are just wilted.

If your food processor or blender is not very powerful, grate cheeses.

Add contents of the pan, cheeses and nuts to food processor or blender. Blend until they form a paste. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of milk, process until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Boil water in a pot for the pasta.

Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, pan-fry the steaks seasoned with salt and pepper.

Drain pasta and add back to the pot with the sauce to heat it through, coating it well.

Serve pasta topped with steak and a side salad.