Mushroom Penne with Walnut Pesto

I am not a huge pesto fan, because it is completely consumed by Basil. I’ve tried to adjust it and just haven’t found something that works. Until now, I’ve changed out both the basil and pine nuts for spinach and walnuts. I really like the creaminess that the toasted walnuts offer and spinach is one of my favorites and also adds a less grainy taste than basil.

I saute mushrooms in butter (french brought home by my neighbor from France), add the penne with a little pasta water. When serving a dollop of room temperature pesto is so creamy and good!

This is really a great weeknight dinner; fast, simple and you get your veggies. My Carly hates spinach, but loves this pesto!




  • 16-20 ounces of any kind of mushrooms (I use standard button mushrooms)
  • 12 ounces of pasta (I use whole grain)
  • 3 tbs salted butter (if you can get the sea salt butter, even better)
  • 2/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of toasted walnuts
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 4 leaves of basil
  • salt and pepper


Cook the penne pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Toast the walnuts in a small sauté pan over low heat in a dry pan stir or shake until the walnuts become fragrant


In a food processor, combine the OO, spinach, parm cheese, toasted walnuts, lemon juice, garlic and basil and pulse until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the butter over medium heat in a large deep skillet. Add the mushrooms and saute for 8-10 minutes, until the mushrooms are a deep golden brown. Add the penne pasta to the pan along with approximately a cup of pasta water and stir to combine, adding Parmesan, salt, pepper.


Place mushrooms and pasta on plates and either dollop the pesto on top or pass around to your guests.



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