Incredibly bright and fresh, Tallarines Verdes translates to “green noodles,” and is a similar dish to pasta with pesto sauce. However, what sets this traditional Peruvian dish apart is one key ingredient: evaporated milk. This makes the pureed spinach-basil sauce more creamy (and less oily) than what many would expect from pesto, and lends a very subtle sweetness to the dish. In other words… it’s incredibly delicious. Sautéing the red onion first softens its flavors so that it doesn’t overpower the sauce with harsh onion notes. And we blanch the spinach and basil in order to preserve the leaves’ color, resulting in a vibrant, bright green sauce. Feel free to use linguine or bucatini noodles instead of spaghetti, if you prefer.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup diced red onion (from 1 small onion)
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (about 1 1/4 oz.), plus more for garnish
2 1/2 ounces queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese), crumbled (about 1/2 cup), plus more for garnish
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
How to Make It
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet over medium. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer onion to a food processor; cool slightly.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Add spinach and basil; cook just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer spinach and basil to a fine wire-mesh strainer; cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and basil, queso fresco, milk, walnuts, garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil to food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.
Cook spaghetti in salted water according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Toss spaghetti with spinach mixture, adding cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Garnish with additional basil and queso fresco.
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