This Marks and Spencer Copycat Spinach, Pesto and Pine Nut Pasta is silky and glossy without using excessive amounts of oil. This tastes exactly like the M&S version and is so so delicious.
This Pesto Pasta reminds me of a time when i was was young and care free. In those days I used to work for a company, in their human resources department. It was the most fast paced, high pressured environment i have ever worked in but I learnt a heck of a lot in a short space of time. I know that i wouldn’t have learnt as much, if it wasn’t as crazy as it was. Lunch breaks were necessary but didn’t always happen. So when we did make it out, we were going to have something that was quick to grab but delicious too.
I loved that job. Amongst all the pressure, we laughed a lot too. I mean that undignified belly laughing where someone inevitably lets out a snort.
Most days, we would go to Tesco because it was round the corner but some days we would go into town, where just before we left, I would run into M&S and grab a spinach and pine nut pasta and a lemon drink. I enjoyed both in equal measures.
How to make the best Pesto Pasta
- There is nothing worse then having pesto pasta that is sahara desert dry. Nobody likes dry pasta. To combat this I always add some of the pasta cooking water. It is a technique I learnt ages ago through excessive reading but also by watching chefs in Italy making Pasta! The benefit to adding the water is that the starch in the water emulsifies with the pesto and makes for a glossy pasta that is as far away from dry as you can imagine.
- You can use any pasta here. I have used both Penne and Farfelle. M&S used Farfalle. They both work.
- They also don’t blend the ingredients into an actual pesto. Again I have tried both ways and both versions work well.
- They don’t toast the pine nuts but I do and I love it that way, One thing i will say is if you choose to toast the pine nuts, keep a close eye on them and do it very lightly.
- I sometimes add a poached egg over the top..trying not to dribble right now.
How to make Marks and Spencer Copycat Spinach, Pesto and Pine Nut Pasta
It is pretty simple to make this recipe.
The basic steps are:
- Blend together the Garlic, Spinach, Parmesan, Oil, Salt and Pepper.
2. Toast the Pine Nuts in a dry pan. 3. Boil the Pasta until al dente.4. Mix the Pesto into the Pasta.
5. Top with extra Parmesan and Pine Nuts if desired.
Quick, Easy and Simple
If you are stressing about what to make for dinner tonight then this is the perfect recipe. It is quick and easy and one of my favourite meals. It is the kind of recipe I make when I want plain, simple, good food. It reminds me of going to Italy and seeing the chefs cook there. They would just use a few simple ingredients and make the most amazing dishes.
Other tips and tricks
Yes it is pretty straight forward but these tips and tricks will help it come out perfect each time:
- Salt the pasta water. Just ask Samin Nosrat. Salting water for pasta is essential.
- Use the pasta water – Before you drain the pasta, take out about 300 ml of water.
- Toss the pasta and pesto together in a large bowl. Not in a pot and definitely not over heat. Basil doesn’t like heat.
- It is better to eat this pasta chilled. Re heating it doesn’t bode well. I mean you can if you want, but it is better chilled just like they do it in M&S.
How to make Pesto and Variations
Making Pesto is usually a case of just whizzing all your ingredients together in a blender or using a pestle and mortar if you have the time. The classic one is made like the one used in this recipe.
Garlic, Pine Nuts, Basil Leaves, Olive Oil, Parmesan and Salt and Pepper – Some people roast the garlic slightly beforehand which works beautifully and makes for a sweeter and less pungent pesto.
Other Greens that you can use instead of Basil:
- Roast Red Pepper
Other Nuts/Seeds to use in place of the Pine Nuts:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Nutritional yeast, in place of the parmesan
- Red Chilli Flakes
- Roast Red Pepper
- I have a lovely Avocado chutney recipe that I sometimes add to Pasta.
- You can also make a Muhammara style pesto by roasting a red pepper and blending that into the pesto.
This pasta is nice served with:
Other recipes you might like:
**This recipe was updated with process photos and additional info on 07/10/19. Please let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a comment/rating. It really helps the blog to reach more eyes.
Marks and Spencer Copycat Spinach, Pesto and Pine Nut Pasta
- 70 g Basil Leaves
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 60 g Pine Nuts
- 40 g Parmesan grated
- 120 ml Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 300 g Farfelle or any pasta shape
- 2 tsp Salt
- 30 g Pine Nuts
- Handful Spinach Leaves
- 30 g Parmesan grated
Bring a large pot of water to the boil with the salt. Boil the pasta according to pack instructions. Scoop out 300 ml water and set aside. Drain pasta in a colander.
Combine the ingredietns for the Pesto in a blender and blend till combined. Add 75 ml water and blend again.
Add the pesto to the pasta in a large bowl and combine, adding more water if required to make the sauce silky.
Taste the salt and add more if needed. Divide between bowls and add additional parmesan, spinach and pine nuts.
- Pesto - If using store brought Pesto, taste it first. You may need to use less as the taste is usually stronger.
- There are many ways to make Pesto, feel free to adjust your recipe. See some suggestions in the blog post.
- Parmesan - Some of you don't use Parmesan. This can be replaced with Italian hard cheese/Grana Padano/Nutritional Yeast. I have also heard that Vegan Parmesan pretty much tastes exactly like normal Parmesan.
- Pasta - I use Farfelle or Penne. Spaghetti also works well with this recipe.
Other Tips and Tricks -
- A squeeze of Lemon Juice works really well with any Pesto based dish. Feel free to add that at the end.
- Reheating leftovers means you will get a dry bitter pasta dish so i would suggest eating at room temperature. Basil doesn't like to be reheated.
- Toss the pasta and pesto together in a large bowl.
- Calories are based on 4 servings minus additional toppings.
Spinach, Pesto and Pine nut Pasta
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 60 g pine nuts
- 30 g parmesan optional
- 150 ml olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 225 g uncooked Pasta
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tbsp butter
- Handful spinach leaves
- 30 g pine nuts
- 30 g parmesan shredded
Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook till al dente (or however you like it). Drain the pasta, set aside and toss with some olive oil.
Combine all the ingredients for the pesto and whizz in a blender till combined.
In a dry, small non stick pan add the pine nuts and toast very lightly over a low heat. (About 1 minute)
In the same pot you boiled the pasta in, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the pasta, season well and toss through.
Pour the pesto over the top and mix through the pasta. Remove from the heat.
Add the spinach leaves, toasted pine nuts and parmesan on top.