Spinach and walnut pesto

Every marathon season pasta sales go through the roof, with runners looking to maximise carbs before big races. 

Traditional pesto, made with basil and pine kernels, is delicious, but why not update it with walnuts and spinach and add that to your spaghetti instead? 

With its peppery and earthy taste, spinach come into season in April - just in time for some pre-London carb-loading.

Preparation: 15 minutes 

Serves: 4

  • 500g spaghetti
  • 150g walnuts
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 30g Parmesan
  • 100g spinach
  • 200ml olive oil (approximately)
  • Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in lightly salted water. Meanwhile, place the walnuts under the grill and toast gently until they are slightly coloured. Do not leave unattended as the nuts brown quickly.

2 Place the garlic and most of the spinach in a blender and process until smooth. Add the toasted walnuts and blend briefly. Do not over process, or the nuts will take on a floury consistency. 

When you are happy with the consistency, turn the spinach mixture into a bowl, then slowly stir in the Parmesan. Gradually add the olive oil until you have reached a thick, coating consistency (you may not need all of the olive oil). Add salt and pepper to taste, stir into the spaghetti with a few fresh spinach leaves, and serve.

The Skinny

Calories  284 
Fat  19g
Carbs  70.8g
Protein 10.7g

The Healthy

Walnuts: With more omega-3s than any other nut, they help to lower risk of stroke and hypertension. They can also help to ease the symptoms of depression. 

Garlic: It contains phytochemicals, which lower blood lipid (or fat) levels, helping to keep your blood-sugar and energy levels stable.

Spinach: Rich in vitamins A and B, spinach is also the best-known source of alpha lipoic acid. This powerful antioxidant helps stabilise blood sugar and keep you mentally sharp

Many thanks to Pea Shoots for providing this recipe, which was printed in the May 2010 edition of Runner's World magazine.