It’s no guac, but who cares?

Living in the godforsaken Ithaca tundra, I realized that despite how bad the weather is, there are always things to look forward to. In the spring, for instance, it’s regaining the sensation in my fingertips and the opening day at the farmer’s market. Last Saturday, the latter of the two was realized. The weather is still too cold for my liking; but a 40-degree high is certainly appreciated after such a brutal winter.
Luckily, the rest of America is right on schedule with the commencement of spring and so I was excited to find ripe avocados calling my name at the store last week. After poking all of them to pick the ripest out of the bunch (don’t judge, I know you do it too) I bought 4; I used the first one to shoot the Avocado Milkshake Video, and the rest to experiment on an Avocado Pesto I dreamt up recently. Believe me, just like the milkshake, it’s a lot tastier than it sounds.

mise en place

The ingredients are similar to a regular pesto, but with minor alterations. The bulk of the greenness now comes from the avocado while the basil is merely a supporting actor in the whole production (I didn’t have the heart to exclude it). Then I decided to add lemon juice for zing and milk for a creamy touch.
No, the sauce will not curdle because the natural fats in the avocado help keep everything together (clever, huh?).

the spoon test

After processing everything together you’ll have a super thick sauce. No panicking is necessary as you’re only a couple steps away from pesto heaven at this point. The sauce will later be brought to consistency with pasta water, so just remember to reserve a cup before draining it.

vibrant green color

One of my favorite components of this dish is the vibrant forest-green color that the spinach takes on after sautéing. Of course, I keep it Italian by throwing in some toasted pine nuts. And if you don’t dig spinach, you can substitute arugula for a more peppery flavor that works out just fine (especially if you’re a big fan of arugula, as I am).

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of the cooking water and toss the pasta with the sautéed spinach and sauce. You’ll notice that the sauce is still very thick and this is completely normal. Incorporate the pasta water a little at a time until you reach the perfect consistency you’re looking for.

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Avocado Pesto Pasta

(yields approx. 4-6 servings)


  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 1 hass avocado
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 10-12 leaves of basil
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
  • 2 tbsp. + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 oz. pine nuts, toasted (approx ½ cup)
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. In a large pot, cook pasta to specifications as directed on the package and set aside a cup of the cooking water.
  2. Blend the avocado, milk, basil, Parmigiano, 2 tbsp. olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and ¼ of the pine nuts until smooth to make the sauce.
  3. Using the remaining olive oil, sauté the spinach and the pine nuts just until the spinach wilts and turns a vibrant green.
  4. Toss the cooked pasta, sauce and sautéed spinach together and add a little of the cooking water at a time until you reach the consistency you like.
  5. Serve with some extra Parmigiano shredded on top


12 thoughts on “It’s no guac, but who cares?

  1. peabody, honeyb, kevin – Thanks! I would have never thought, but in the end I was quite pleased with the turnout!

    canarygirl – aren’t avocados just heavenly?! I’m excited that they’re finally in season!

  2. OMG, that looks so delicious!! You have blown my foodie mind. I love how you laid all the ingredients out like that, it’s really helpful. I am SO making this as soon as possible (like NOW). I totally bookmarked this page, thanks!

  3. I saw a comment of yours on Orangette that mentioned you were from Ithaca, and I had to drop by. I did my time at Cornell for graduate, and I remember Wegman’s and the Farmer’s Market in the spring with a fondness usually reserved for things like really good chocolate. I actively pine for them now that my grocery is a third that size, and the nearest farmer’s market is two hours away.

    This pasta looks amazing (I’m a sucker for very green dishes). I have an avocado on my counter right now, so it may become the sacrifice for tonight’s dinner.

  4. Followed some crumbles over here from White on Rice. Entertaining videos, like them! We are starting to do the same, fun but work. Love this dish idea, I would had never thought of using an avocado – brilliant!

  5. wow that looks really interesting!! I love reading about uses for avocado. I definately need to try this out, I have a lonely avocado in the kitchen that needs to be used up!

  6. Hi Tony! I LOVE LOVE your blog, I tried this recipe 2 nights ago and it was soooooooooo good! I’m going to be making the chicken with the preserved lemons tonight, can’t wait, your photos look stunning, keep the great recipes coming 🙂

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