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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Rustic pesto pasta (Carlos’ style) with cremini mushrooms and baby spinach

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Ciao amici! Finalmente riesco a pubblicare una ricetta ispirata alla bella Italia.

Hello friends! Finally I get to post a recipe inspired by beautiful Italy.

The dish you are about to see (and make) is my take on the signature sauce from the city of Genoa, in the region of Ligura - pesto.

Pesto originated around the 16th century and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil and pine nuts blended with Parmesan cheese and olive oil.

(Photo: Flusel)

My passion for la cucina Italiana has been deeply rooted in me by mia famiglia. Part of my father‘s side of the family originated from Firenze (Florence) in the region of La Toscana (Tuscany).

(Photo: Mark Boss)

Menu: Pasta rustica al pesto al modo di Carlos con funghi e spinaci. (Rustic pesto pasta, Carlos’ style, with cremini mushrooms and baby spinach).

Pairing: 2016 Francis Coppola Rosso & Bianco (Rosso/Red).

This dish serves 4. Andiamo a cucinare! Let’s get cooking!

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


Pesto sauce:

1/2 to 3/4 cups of extra virgin olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves

1 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (traditionally used) or grated grana padano cheese (save 1/2 cup for garnishing or for adding extra cheese to each dish).

1/2 to 3/4 cup of pine nuts (recommend slightly roasting the pine nuts ahead of time for more intense flavor). Save some for garnishing each plate (approx 4 tablespoon).

1/2 to 3/4 cups of fresh basil

Salt/ pepper to taste (approx 1 to 2 teaspoon each)

For Pasta:

1/2 box of Barilla Collezione spaghetti

1 cup of thinly sliced cremini (baby Bella) mushrooms

1 cup of chopped baby spinach

1 medium sized shallot - minced

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped in small pieces

2 teaspoons of dried crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon of minced fresh garlic

1/4 cup of heavy cream

4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil



Pesto sauce:

On a blender place all ingredient and half of the oil, add more oil slowly to get it to the texture you want, some people like it course (less oil) some like it smooth (more oil).

Note: The pesto sauce can be made ahead of time and there will be some leftover sauce which you can use for future pasta dishes, on pizza (as a substitute for red sauce), sandwich spread, or as an appetizer dip.

For pasta:

On a large pan, on medium heat, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 1/2 tablespoon of fresh garlic and fry for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste (while cooking mushrooms). Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

On a large boiling pot, start boiling water for cooking the pasta. Add plenty of salt (2-3 pinches).

Using the same pan used to cook the mushroom, (the pan should still be hot) add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat up on medium heat. Add rest of garlic and all of shallots. Sauté for 1 minute.

Add crushed red pepper flakes, stirring quickly. Add tomatoes, add salt & pepper (to taste) and stir, cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes. This mixture should be like a thick paste.

By now, the water should be boiling for the pasta. Place the pasta gently and boil according to box directions.

Add 1/2 cup of already made pesto sauce to the pan and mix with the tomato mixture. Stir well. Add cream and bring to a quick boil. reduce heat to low and add spinach and mushrooms. Simmer until pasta is cooked.

On a large mixing bowl, spoon some of the pan sauce on the bottom of the bowl, add cooked pasta and add the rest of the sauce on top. Gently mix until all of the pasta is coated with the sauce.

Serve it up!

Arrange on each plate by nearly placing one large coil serving of the pasta. Tip: using a large meat fork twirl one serving inside of a soup ladle to get the perfect twist. Then, gently place it onto the plate.

Garnish by arranging a few mushrooms side by side next to the pasta. Sprinkle some pine nuts on top of pasta and lightly dust with some grated cheese. Serve immediately.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Wine pairing

A traditional pesto dish would only be the sauce and pasta, served with a good Italian Pinot Grigio.

For this recipe I am opting for an “everyday” versatile type of wine. A 2016 Francis Coppola Winery - Rosso & Bianco (Rosso) red wine.

(Available online for $12)

*Rosso is made from a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from climatically diverse growing regions across California.

A tavola tutti! Buon apettito. Mangia!

To the table everyone! Enjoy! Eat!

Salute! (Cheers) 🍷

(Photo: Dario Veronesi)

A special Grazie (thank you) from Carlos...

153 views3 comments


Jul 29, 2020

Amico mio, questa è una cena fantastica. Ho adorato il suggerimento di abbinamento del vino.


Carlos Sarmiento
Carlos Sarmiento
Jul 26, 2020

Thank you so much! ♥️🍷


Aida Limongi
Aida Limongi
Jul 26, 2020

Great Italian dinner! Lifts up my mood and soul.

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