Cavatappi with spinach pesto and finely grated pecorino in an off-white bowl.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

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! 

Tracy’s Spinach Pesto

5 stars (1 rating)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 1-pound box cavatappi
  • 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.
  • Place the skillet over low heat and cook until the garlic has softened, for 15 to 20 minutes; the garlic should not take on any color.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Cook the cavatappi in the boiling water according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
  • If using, add red pepper flakes to the garlic-infused oil, to taste, and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high, add the spinach and a pinch of salt.
  • Sauté, stirring often until completely wilted, about 3 minutes.
  • Transfer the sautéed spinach and all pan juices to a blender.
  • Add the pecorino and process until smooth and season with salt, to taste, if necessary.
  • 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.
Course: Easy Dinner, Pasta, Sauces, Spring
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino