Confession: After a long day of cooking on set, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner for myself. I often head to my cousin Tracy's house. One of my favorite things she makes is this creamy spinach pesto — it's so easy to whip up and so delish!
Technique tip: Cook the garlic low and slow to infuse the oil.
Swap option: Use rigatoni instead of cavatappi.
Special equipment: Blender or food processor.
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 (1-pound) box cavatappi
- crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 (6-ounce) bag baby spinach
- kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons finely grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
In a large skillet, combine the oil and garlic.2.
Place the skillet over low heat and cook until the garlic has softened, about 10 minutes; the garlic should not take on any color.3.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.4.
Cook the cavatappi in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.5.
If using, add red pepper flakes to the garlic-infused oil, to taste, and cook for 30 seconds.6.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the spinach and a pinch of salt.7.
Sauté, stirring often until completely wilted, about 3 minutes.8.
Transfer the sautéed spinach and all pan juices to a blender.9.
Add the pecorino and process until smooth and season with salt, to taste, if necessary.10.
Add the spinach pesto to the pasta and stir to coat, adding some reserved pasta water, as needed, until a creamy consistency is reached; serve immediately with a sprinkling of pecorino.