In Peru, pesto is traditionally prepared with a soft unaged white cheese known as “queso fresco”. My Peruvian friends would say, “I know what queso fresco is Alessandra”. But I’m really stuck on this ingredient because it’s hard for me to find right now that I’m abroad.

Tallarines verdes de queso parmesano

I was missing my mom’s pesto spaghetti and thinking about making the sauce with feta cheese, which can be roughly described as a white sheep cheese of greek origin, when I was recommended to use Parmesan cheese. It is more common to find parmesan cheese in the part of the world where I am currently so to me this was an excellent idea.

A trivia fact I didn’t know about this green sauce known as “pesto” is that it originates in the Genoa city in Italy, and that traditionally it is made with Parmesan cheese! Among other ingredients, of course. Did you know that the term pesto originates from the Genovese verb “pestâ”, which means to crush or ground? These were times without blenders, when the sauce was prepared in a mortar.

Oh! This sauce keeps well in the refrigerator, preferably if you freeze it after blending it and before cooking it. A useful tip I found online is to freeze the sauce in ice trays so you can access it more easily when needed.

2 cups spinach leaves – packed
⅔ cup basil leaves – packed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup toasted walnuts – can be toasted lightly in a pan without oil before use
½ cup olive oil
½ water, approx.
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. / 500 g. pasta – noodles, ravioli, or other.
Bay leaf, oil, and salt to taste – optional

In a blender, mix everything, helping yourself with the oil and water to achieve a medium consistency. Not too stiff and not too watery.

Cook the sauce briefly in a lightly oiled pot or pan.

In a large saucepan, bring water, with a little oil, one bay leaf and salt, to a boil. When the water boils add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, approx.

Drain and return to the pot for mixing with the sauce.

Colar los fideos y mezclar con la salsa

Serve the pasta mixed with the pesto, and accompany with meat and cooked vegetables. In Peru it is common to use linguini pasta, and serve with a fried beef steak and cooked potatoes slices that have been lightly browned in a pan. We love our carbs.

Serves 4-5 people.