While I enjoy a nice tomato-based sauce, sometimes I just want something different. During the warmer months, a nice, refreshing pesto is more what I crave. A sauce that doesn’t require cooking? I’m all for that! This Cheese Tortellini with Spinach Basil Pesto is so easy to make and comes together really quickly.
The great thing about pesto is that it’s so versatile. The basic pesto sauce is fantastic, but there are so many other ingredients that can also be used. You can make it with spinach, arugula and even kale. It can be made nut-free or dairy free, although, I just can’t imagine it without some tasty Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
If you are only making one package of pasta, then you will only use about half of this recipe. For us, I just made one package, so I had leftover pesto. I used the leftovers in a frittata the following day. YUM! The remaining portion would also be fantastic stirred into an Italian flavored soup.
This pesto can be made a day ahead, but because pesto made with basil can darken, you want to be sure to store it properly. Place either in a 4 oz. sized mason jar with a lid (my preferred method), or cover tightly with plastic wrap with the plastic touching the surface of the pesto. You wanna keep that gorgeous green color!
Cheese Tortellini with Spinach Basil Pesto
- 2 cups packed baby spinach
- 1 cup packed fresh basil
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic , minced
- sea salt & pepper , to taste
- 2 (8.8 oz) packages of fresh tortellini (or frozen)
Blend the spinach, basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a food processor or blender until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the blender or food processor with a spatula as necessary.
With the food processor running, slowly pour the rest of the olive oil in a steady small stream. Stop as necessary to scrape down the sides. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the tortellini according to package directions. Drain tortellini, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return tortellini to pot, add the pesto and toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
Recipe NotesPesto made with basil darkens when exposed to air. Store the pesto either in a 4 oz. sized mason jar with a lid (recommended), or in a small bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. Make sure that the plastic is in direct contact with the pesto, so as not to let any air in.