Pasta recipes: Laura Santini’s walnut and anchovy pesto

This tasty pesto keeps in the fridge for up to three days when covered with a layer of olive oil. It is also delicious on chicken, steak or fish.

walnut and anchovy pesto
Christopher Scholey


A handful (about 6) sundried tomato halves, in oil or dried
3-6 anchovy fillets (to taste: dried sundried tomatoes are more salty so start with 3 anchovy fillets)
A handful (about 50g) of walnut halves, toasted until rich and nutty
A large handful (about 15g) of flat-leaf parsley
A large handful (about 15g) of basil leaves
About 60g aged pecorino cheese, broken into chunks
1 garlic clove, peeled
Grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 large lemon
100ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
A pinch of cayenne pepper
400g-600g dried pasta or 320g-480g fresh pasta
1⁄2 bag (about 60g) of baby spinach leaves, washed and spun
400g heritage (or other) tomatoes, roughly chopped into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Meanwhile, place the sundried tomatoes, anchovies, walnut halves, parsley, basil, pecorino, garlic, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a food processor or blender and pulse to a rough pesto consistency. Add more oil if the mixture is too dry or until you have the desired consistency. Season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.
  2. When the salted water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the packet. Drain the pasta but keep a cup of the cooking water.
  3. Toss the hot pasta with enough pesto to coat well. Add the baby spinach leaves and chopped tomatoes and toss again to mix. Add a tiny splash of the retained pasta water to moisten if necessary.

TIP This dish can either be served immediately or prepared a little in advance and served at room temperature.

Now buy the book

pasta perfectOur recipes are from Pasta Perfect by Laura Santini, which is published by Ryland, Peters & Small, price £14.99. To order a copy for £11.99 until 11 April, go to or call 020 3308 9193. Free p&p on orders over £20.