Green Spaghetti (a.k.a Tallarines Verde)

in Dinner, Pasta

Did you ever forge your mother’s signature? I did. Once. And of course I got caught. Duh. That’s how it always goes.

I was 10 years old and got a detention. I’m not afraid to say that my mama scared me when I was little. I didn’t mess with her. So I figured it’d be way easier and less terrifying to just forge her pretty yet complicated signature. She did (and still does) have a really beautiful signature. Think writing out of Downton Abbey (I’m obsessed!).

So, I sat in my room and practiced and practiced and practiced. After about a hundred attempts I totally nailed it. Feeling successful, I turned in the signed detention and started serving my time. I was having fun, actually. The teacher who supervised detention didn’t have anything under control and I remember laughing and joking with kids in the back of the room. It got sort of quiet for some reason and I remember hearing high heels clacking down the hall. At the door was my mama, looking super sharp in a business lady suit, giving me a glare that was SO scary. OMG did I stop laughing. She was truly terrifying.

My mom left me in detention and made me walk home. I remember that loooong walk home and thinking: “I’M JUST GONNA RUN AWAY AND THEN THEY’RE GONNA BE SOOOOO SORRY.”

I went home, faced the music. I was grounded. And then my mom started signing her name in a different way, more complicated, more detailed. ‘Til this day she signs it all crazy-like. I’m to blame.

Nowadays my mama is the total opposite of scary. She’s my bestie. I called her late one night like at 11pm asking her for this recipe. It was one of my favorites growing up. It’s another green Peruvian recipe.

You could call it a pesto, because it sort of is, except there are major differences between this and an Italian pesto.

First, instead of Parmesan you have salty, delicious queso fresco. And to make it a tad creamier, and less oily, there’s the use of evaporated milk. Rather than just basil, there’s a mix of 3 cups spinach and 2 cups basil. My mom told me that in Peru they use more spinach than basil because the basil there is incredibly strong. Foreign facts, I like ‘em.

This meal is traditionally served with a few potatoes and a steak. I actually bought a little steak to serve on the side but my refrigerator is broken and has decided to freeze everything. It’s weird. My eggs were frozen yesterday morning. Whatever.

With or without a steak this plate of green spaghetti is just perfect.

Green Spaghetti

Print this recipe!

Handful of pine nuts
3 cups spinach leaves
2 cups basil leaves
1 cup cubed queso fresco (6 ounces)
1/4 cups evaporated milk, plus 2 tablespoons
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons canola oil

1. Add the pine nuts to a small skillet set over medium-heat. Toast them for 2 minutes and until lightly golden brown on each side.

2. To a blender, add the toasted pine nuts, spinach, basil, queso fresco, garlic and evaporated milk. Blend for 30 seconds and until mostly smooth. In a steady stream, with the blender on, add the canola oil until thoroughly combined. Queso fresco tends to be quite salty. Salt to taste now after everything is blended. I ended up adding about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in well salted water. In a medium-skillet, heat up the pesto; transfer the cooked pasta to the pesto and toss.

Serves 4

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Gina March 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm

I made this recipe tonight and it turned out fabulous!!! The store didn’t carry queso fresco though so I subbed with Feta. I also charred and peeled a poblano pepper and threw it into the blender. The pepper gave it a great verde flavor and a nice mild spicy pop that blended well with the other flavors.


Adrianna March 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm

This is so great to hear. I love your substitutions. I’ve never had this with feta cheese, so it’s awesome to know that it works!


Elena March 6, 2012 at 3:20 am

Your recipe looks really tasty and I like your substitution.
Here in Italy we have different kinds of pesto. Try the rucola salad instead of the spinach!
I’m going to try your recipe. Thanks!


Lucie (Thursday Night Dinner) March 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

i love pesto so i cant wait to try this peruvian twist!


Maria @ Orchard Bloom March 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I lived in Peru for 8 months and made tallarines verde all the time. I’d totally forgotten about it till now. Thanks for reminding me!


Paula from Vintage kitchen Notes March 9, 2012 at 2:08 am

I made this recipe twice already. It´s so good; the ingredients just combine perfectly. Never really used evaporated milk for savory food and it´s a great change from cream based sauces. I´m glad Peruvian cooking is coming out of hiding for good.


alina March 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

~Hey absolutly looooved this recipe…gonna try it sooon…love all ur recipies


Karla March 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I’m peruvian and this is one of my favorite dishes, it’s even tastier when you do a little saute of onions, garlic, paprika and cumin and you blend that with boiled basil and spinach but it have to be cold so you can blend it with the evaporated milk and then it’s not necesary the cheese you just have to boiled a little bit the green sauce and mix it with the pasta, it’s AWESOME. You should try this version of the Tallarines Verdes.


Kaleena March 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

OMG! I’ve been hunting for a Tallarines Verdes recipe for months. My Peruvian abuelita wouldn’t share her recipe! This is the closest I’ve had to her cooking. I LOVE that you have so many Peruvian recipes, it brings back tastes from my childhood.


Adrianna March 15, 2012 at 10:23 pm

So awesome! Hope you love them!


Alanna April 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

Made this last night for dinner – absolutely delicious. Added some crispy squares of bacon. Thanks for a killer recipe! I made a big batch, so we’ll be eating this for days. Yay!


Adrianna April 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm

High five! Cool.


Makenzie ann December 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Mmmm okay this looks amazing. I was thinking about renaming my blog green spaghetti and stumbled upon your blog!!! I’ll be checking back for more recipeeees :)


Adrianna December 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Ha! That’s awesome.


taylor January 23, 2013 at 7:45 am

Adrianna, what cheese would you suggest to sub for the queso fresco? I have some goat cheese in the fridge. What do you think?


Renee April 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm

So I googled tallarin verdes, as I am making a big birthday dinner for my Peruvian boyfriend and his family. His grandmother has taught me many recipes so I take on a lot of others that he asks for that I haven’t learned at her hand. However, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the “Peruvian”
Pesto recipes were calling for spinach too. Low and behold your blog popped up, funny, because I read it, but must have missed this entry…what a funny coincidence. I just read your blog entry today…thanks!!


Adrianna April 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Oh hahha. Yep! I really need to put a Peruvian section in the recipe index since I think some of these kinds of recipes get lost. Hope your boyfriend’s family loves this. To make it even more authentic, put a piece of steak on top of the bed of spaghetti. :)


Renee April 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm

There was a huge debate between his father and sister whether it should be steak or chicken…I was like how about the birthday boy decides…thanks again!


Mi Vida en un Dulce August 3, 2013 at 7:13 am

At home, we make this pesto also with some pecans, it give a very special touch. Of course this is a family recipe and each family in Peru has it’s own.


Adrianna Adarme August 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

This is very true. I should add the walnuts sometimes soon. :)


Rebecca December 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I just tried this and the basil was overwhelming. I felt like it was missing something. I would say this was very bitter.


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