5-minute fresh green sauce for pasta? Why, is the hulk coming for dinner? Skeptics, fear not, I promise you, not only is this incredibly quick sauce healthy, but it’s also really tasty. PROMISE.
Even my kids wolf this down (although I may have told them it was monster pasta. I didn’t think fresh green sauce would be a winner there, tough crowd).
An easy alternative to pesto for dinner, or lunch, that comes together in less than seven minutes.
Packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, this pasta sauce is not only tasty, but it’s also:
- Very low carb
Toss the sauce with pasta and eat alone, add in some chickpeas, roasted vegetables, or serve with a fresh tomato salad to really get all the colors on your plate popping.
How to make it
Possibly the easiest pasta sauce you’ll ever make, this green sauce comes together in just a few minutes. First, gather your ingredients. Check out the photo below if you’re unsure about any of them.
Next, pop the spinach, cilantro, and parsley in a microwave-safe container (image one below). Sprinkle about a tablespoon of water over the leaves, cover, and microwave on high for one minute.
The leaves should have reduced about half in volume, with some wilted and some not, and be a bright green color (see image two below).
If you prefer not to microwave them or don’t have a microwave, you can pop them in a colander or sieve and steam them while you’re cooking your pasta, or dry fry them quickly in a pan.
Peel the garlic, and skin and remove the stone from the avocado and add to a food processor or high-powered blender bowl along with all the other ingredients except the lemon juice and coconut milk (image three below).
Process for about two minutes until as smooth as possible (it will still be quite thick and chunky).
You might be wondering why there is both garlic powder and fresh garlic, and that’s because they complement each other very well but the drying process gives garlic powder a slightly different flavor profile.
The cayenne here sets off the raw garlic and nutmeg beautifully and it’s only very mildly spicy – think toddler-level spicy – in the final dish, due to the coconut milk tamping down most of the heat. You can up or reduce the quantity of cayenne as you see fit.
Finally, add in the coconut milk and one and a half tablespoons of the lemon juice and process or blend another two minutes until fairly smooth but with a little chunkiness and body, as in image four above.
Taste and adjust the lemon juice if needed – I add the whole two and a half tablespoons but some people are more sensitive to lemon, so only add the remaining tablespoon little by little, tasting every time and stopping when you’re pleased with the level of lemon-flavor.
Done! You can mix it into freshly cooked drained pasta, top with cracked black pepper and cheese if you’d like. Hard Italian cheese (parmesan-style) or soft ones like feta or goat cheese go well or use vegan cheese.
Your tasty green sauce for pasta will also keep in the fridge for five days, although it may darken a little. It can also be frozen and will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
You can serve this sauce with any pasta, but long strands made for coating are my personal preference. So I recommend serving it with spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, or tagliatelle.
When boiling the pasta, salt the pasta water but do not add oil. The oil will coat the pasta strands and make it more difficult for the sauce to stick to them.
Leftover sauce? This green sauce is even amazing stirred through cooked rice, or used as a zesty salad dressing.
If the sauce thickens up in the fridge, just loosen with a little pasta cooking water.
Jazz it up
This green pasta sauce is perfectly tasty as it is but it’s also super versatile. Some other ways I like to enjoy it are:
Mexican-style: Instead of half a cup of parsley and half a cup of cilantro, use one full cup of cilantro. Add one-two green chili peppers in with the avocado and tahini, depending on your spice tolerance level.
Replace the lemon juice with lime juice if you wish. Mix with freshly cooked pasta and add in chopped tomatoes and onions, and then sprinkle with cotija cheese, crumbled queso fresco, or soft white vegan cheese to keep it dairy-free. My easy one-hour vegan goat cheese would make a good vegan substitute.
Italian-style: Replace the fresh herbs with one cup of basil, stir chopped sundried tomatoes and olives through the pasta, and top with a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese or vegan parmesan.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
(This post was originally published November 19th 2018, and later republished with new images and an improved recipe)
- ½ cup parsley
- ½ cup cilantro
- 5 cups (5.3oz) spinach (150g)
- 1 avocado
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 tsp salt
- 1½ - 2½tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Add the parsley, cilantro, and spinach to a microwave-safe bowl or container with a tablespoon of water sprinkled over. Cover and zap on high for one minute until partially wilted.
- Remove the stone and skin from the avocado and peel the garlic.
- Add the wilted greens to the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender. Add the avocado, garlic cloves, ground onion, ground garlic, cayenne, nutmeg, tahini, and salt. Process until as smooth as possible.
- Add in the coconut milk and 1.5 tbsp of the lemon juice and blend for one minute. Taste for lemon juice and add the remaining lemon juice as needed.
- Cover and refrigerate until needed or stir into hot drained pasta straight away and sprinkle with cheese or vegan cheese, cracked black pepper, and extra herbs if desired.
For a more Mexican style flavor, substitute the half cup of parsley for and half cup of cilantro with one full cup of cilantro, add in 1-2 green chili peppers while blending, replace the lemon juice with lime juice, stir chopped raw tomatoes, and onions through the pasta and sprinkle with crumbled cotija or queso fresco or vegan soft white cheese.
For a more Italian-style flavor, substitute the half cup of parsley and half cup of cilantro with one cup of basil and stir chopped sundried-tomatoes and olives through the pasta. Top with a parmesan-style cheese or vegan parmesan.
Amount Per Serving Calories 290Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 0mgSodium 604mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 5gSugar 1gProtein 5g