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Healthy Cheap Recipes: Linguine Pasta al Garden Fresh Pesto Sauce

Updated on August 15, 2015
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Penelope has three grandchildren, two girls and one boy so far. They have beautiful names! She writes stories, and she tells them stories.

Basil Plant in Front of Pine Trees in Tuscany

Basil Plant in Front of Pine Trees in Tuscany
Basil Plant in Front of Pine Trees in Tuscany | Source

Linguine with Garden Fresh Pesto Sauce

4 stars from 4 ratings of Linguine with Garden Fresh Pesto

Healthy Life Style

It's a little daunting to make lovely food on a small budget - at first. But then, meal after delicious meal it proves to be exciting. The challenge to make healthy, cheap meals from seasonal recipes becomes a way of life that is fundamentally pleasurable as well as good for you, body and soul.

I learned this from my neighbors in rural Tuscany (The Maremma) years ago when we moved here. The local farmers' wives taught my young sons and I how to live in the seasons, feeding ourselves all through the year on what grows seasonally, on what we could grow by the side of our house and how to preserve it for other seasons.

Perhaps the expression "Adversity introduces man to himself" comes from these parts! Not only did we survive a few hard years, we thrived on them. Making healthy cheap meals is an art form definitely worth mastering. We make 'Linguine with Garden Fresh Pesto' all through the summer at almost no cost at all - and it is delicious.

  • The fields and pots are filled with garden fresh basil and you can harvest basil leaves many times over all through the summer - before it goes to flower in late September.
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) abounds because this is where olive trees grow,
  • The pine trees drop their cones late summer, so there should be loads of pine nuts.
  • The terrain is poor, so sheep graze everywhere, eventually providing the Pecorino cheese.

We have all the ingredients growing right here - to make one of the many healthy cheap recipes; Linguine with Garden Fresh Pesto Sauce. (You can use spaghetti as your pasta as an alternative).

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 40 min
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1/4 lb (8 handfuls) basil, leaves
  • 50 grams pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 75 grams Pecorino or Parmesan, grated
  • 600 grams Linguine or spaghetti
  • 2/3 tbs spoons rock salt

Pine Cones where Pine Nuts (Pinoli) Come From

Pine cones where pinoli come from
Pine cones where pinoli come from | Source


  1. Take the basil leaves off their stalks and throw the stalks away. If the leaves are dirty, wipe them with some paper towels.
  2. Grate the Pecorino or Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  3. Put on a large pan of salted water (for the Linguine).
  4. Add a finely sliced potato and a handful of green beans to the water.
  5. In a blender put the 8 handfuls of basil, the pine nuts, salt and then the olive oil. Pulse, then blend until creamy. Add more extra virgin olive oil if you need to.
  6. Remove a few tablespoons of pesto from the blender to your serving pasta bowl. Put another few serving spoons of it aside - to add to the pasta.
  7. For conserving: Pour the remainder of the pesto into a conserving jar (which has been boiled and has a well fitting lid). Cover the pesto with EVOO to conserve.
  8. Add the linguine to boiling water for exactly the number of minutes written on the packet.
  9. Just before straining the pasta take a cupful of water from the pan and hold.
  10. Strain the pasta into your serving bowl (with the potato and green beans); Quickly add the few tablespoons of pesto you kept aside. Add the gated cheese. Add the extra pasta water. Mix deftly.


Basil is rich in iron, with high levels of Vitamin A, C and calcium and it is very low in calories.

Pesto Genovese

The best pesto comes from Genoa, in fact Italians talk of pesto 'alla Genovese', translated it means 'Genuine pesto from Genoa'.

Basilico Genovese is protected by a Doc certificate and the best is grown in Pra in the western part of Genoa.

Genoa is in the Liguria region of Italy squashed between the South of France and northern Tuscany - a busy port on the coast.

Christopher Columbus was born here.

History has it that when Napoleon invaded Italy, all his horses died here which made the soil so fertile.

Real, genuine, historically perfect pesto is made by crush-grinding (pestare) Genovese young basil leaves with coarse salt with a pestle and a stone mortar to a paste, before adding pine nuts and Pecorino cheese and oil.

Healthy Food is Seasonal Food is Cheap Food

Isn't it harmonious and in tune with nature to eat what is in season? Isn't it logical? It is certainly economical, since the laws of nature are the laws that govern it. When produce is in season, there is abundance and when a market is flooded with any commodity, the price of that item is low and therefore available.

Basically God gives it to us on a plate!

When food is freshly produced and freshly prepared and eaten 'fresh' it contains all its maximum goodness. It is its most healthy. What grows fresh and in abundance changes from week to week. Peaches in June, asparagus in February, pumpkin in November. No one could ever get bored. Cherries in late May? Then apricots. Olive oil in November. The list goes on and on and on. And each time the produce is in season, especially when it abounds (just before it ripens too much), the prices drop. It's the best time to buy, and do some healthy cooking - and preserving too - for leaner days, or for when you don't have time to do anything else

Spaghetti or Linguine al Pesto Sauce

Italian Pasta al Pesto Sauce
Italian Pasta al Pesto Sauce | Source

Conserving Basil as Pesto

  • Basil is easy to grow, even in jars on a terrace - or by the back door.
  • We eat it through the summer while the basil grows fresh.
  • We conserve 'pesto' in a jar with extra virgin olive oil.
  • We make 'Linguine with Pesto Sauce' as a special treat through the winter.
  • When we are short of money for groceries, we really don't mind; we have our conserved pesto for a plate of pasta as well as other conserves too. It's sort of smug and extra delicious because it doesn't cost a thing (except for a packet of linguine and some grated cheese) and it contains all the vitamins and proteins etc. that we need.

Summer Market Garden in Maremma Tuscany

Summer Market Garden in rural Maremma Tuscany
Summer Market Garden in rural Maremma Tuscany | Source

Pesto Comes from Liguria and Tuscany Italy

Genoa Italy:
Genoa, Italy

get directions

Pra Liguria:
Prà, 16157 Genoa, Italy

get directions

Where DOC Pesto Genovese comes from

Liguria, Italy

get directions

The region Liguria

Florence, Italy

get directions

Where the old lady ate her lunch in the kitchen

Montiano Grosseto:
Montiano, 58051 Magliano in Toscana Province of Grosseto, Italy

get directions

Where we make and eat our pesto lunch in the kitchen!

Culinary True Story

It isn't a basil story but it is related to my basil story because it talks of summer fruits and simple living.

Many, many summers ago I was invited to a villa in Florence.

An old lady caretaker sat silently in her kitchen at the back of the house - at her small wooden table. Sawdust covered the ancient black-and-white tiled floor (to keep it clean). In a rickety old bird cage on the windowsill a canary was falling asleep in the noon heat.

There was half a yellow pepper on a small white plate in front of the old lady. With her gnarled hand, she was paring and eating slices off the other half, slowly, slice by slice. This was her lunch.

I truly understand her now. It was time to eat. It was summer. She was very old. She wasn't hungry for much food. There were sweet fresh peppers in her market garden. She was poor. Her meal of raw yellow pepper was perfect. And it satisfied her completely.

We can't all get to this state of simple satisfaction, many of us might not need to but it is, in my opinion a great achievement, for all ages, walks of life and budgets to enjoy eating the seasonal fruits and foods that grow around us- ripening for us to enjoy; there for us to make good use of and to store for every season.

"Give us this day our daily bread" is a simple request we make each day and really all we ask for is a crust of this abundance!

Viva Linguine with Garden Fresh Pesto Sauce!

© 2012 Penelope Hart


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