Pasta with pesto

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Pasta with pesto

The red, orange, yellow and deep purple colors of heirloom and cherry tomatoes get much of the attention at the summer markets. Basil is often in a supporting role. This week, pick a large bunch of the deep green and fragrant basil from Happy Boys Farm. It stars in this most simple of pasta dishes.

Those paying close attention to what they eat may eschew traditional pesto with pasta recipes because of the amounts of fat and carbs. Evidence-based eating may allow you to have this tasty dish after all. Occasionally I get requests for detailed nutritional information on the weekly recipes.

Extensive nutritional information for each ingredient can be found by googling "USDA Nutritional Database". The fat content in the cheese, olive oil and pine nuts adds up to about 16 gm per serving with only 3 gm of saturated fat. A 2,000-calorie per day diet can have up to 600 calories from fat with 200 calories as saturated fat. At 16 gm (144 calories) of fat per serving, this part of your dinner will only comprise one quarter of your daily recommended fat intake and 1/7 of the saturated fat allowance. There are about 50 gm of carbohydrates per serving with 60 mg of calcium from cheese and another 20 mg from basil. This source of 80 mg adds a little to the recommended greater than 1,000 mg calcium day (1,200 to 1,500 mg for women).

You can make this week's recipe using a mortar and pestle. I opted for a food processor as it was already late in the evening.

Servings: 6


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a small skillet
  • 1/3 cup mixed grated parmesan and pecorino romano cheese
  • 1 lb dried linguine


Bring a pasta pot full of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, pulse the garlic and salt a few times in the food processor. Add the basil leaves and pulse until chopped. Add the pine nuts and cheese. With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add pepper and more salt if needed. Cook the pasta. Put the pesto in a large skillet with about 1/3 cup of the pasta water. The risk here is draining the pasta and watching the 1/3 cup you need go down the drain. Add the hot pasta to the pesto and water. Mix thoroughly and enjoy. Add more salt and pepper as needed.