Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Almond Pesto Sauce

February 21st, 2008  | Category: Pasta, Vegetarian

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Almond Pesto Sauce

Remember my post about how I drove mom crazy with my overeating habit? This is my second attempt to break it.

Left to my own devices, I would boil an 18 ounce pack of Linguine, smother it in a rich tomato sauce prepared with a stick of butter and a head of garlic and eat that in one sitting. That’s the old Cenk. The new Cenk, who suffers greatly from back pain and thus in immediate need to lose weight, prefers whole wheat pasta and lighter sauces, so even if he eats the whole pot the calorie intake is just a small fraction.

Here is my second trial with whole wheat pasta (take a look at the first trial here). Instead of the regular pesto sauce, which has loads of olive oil and Parmesan cheese, I prepared a much lighter alternative and was quite happy with the result.

Blanched almonds imitate the texture of Parmesan cheese wonderfully. Lemon juice and zest adds a kick and toasted pine nuts add extra crunch to the dish.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Almond Pesto Sauce 2

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Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living, February 2007


  • 9 oz whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1 oz fresh basil, plus more for serving
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts


  1. Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt and Parmesan cheese; process until finely chopped.
  2. With machine running, gradually add oil and process until smooth. Set pesto aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and return to the pot.
  4. Add the pesto and mix well.
  5. Heat a small saute pan over medium high heat and without adding any oil toast the pine nuts until they get a nice brown color.
  6. Divide pasta among bowls and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and fresh basil leaves.
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  1. 1 - MariannaF on February 21st, 2008

    Aha, interesting read about the reasoning behind almonds!! Although I’m guessing almonds are just as fatty as parmesan, they are nonetheless a much healthier type of “fat”! Everywhere I go I keep reading about the amazing health benefits of almonds, so they can only be doing you good!
    Anyway, beautiful dish, beautiful photos, and I love the cutlery!

  2. 2 - helen on February 21st, 2008

    I don’t mind the occasional whole wheat pasta – it has a nuttier taste than the regular variety and works very well with pesto. The boyfriend, on the other hand, doesn’t equate healthy with tasty and would refuse to partake in any attempt to introduce fiber into a meal where fiber shouldn’t be found.

  3. 3 - amanda on February 21st, 2008

    almond pesto sounds delicious. the texture of the pasta with the sauce sound extremely tasty. I hope your back pain eases up for you 🙂

  4. 4 - Patricia Scarpin on February 21st, 2008

    Cenk, I’m bookmarking the recipe now – I need to get rid of 5-6 pounds myself, so any new and delicious ideas are welcome! This dish looks mouthwatering!

  5. 5 - Peter G on February 21st, 2008

    What a great alternative using the almonds. It sounds very fresh.

  6. 6 - Robin on February 21st, 2008

    Oh geez, I’ve been eating so much pasta lately but this looks too good to not try! At least it’s a “healthy” pasta (though I’m sure I’ll eat way more than the healthy limit!)

  7. 7 - Deeba on February 21st, 2008

    Cenk, beautiful post & beautiful pictures. Agree with Helen..though just the occasional whole-wheat pasta is OK with me, yours looks good enough to eat everyday. A 1000 apologies for my gaff! YOUR BLOG IS BEAUTIFUL!!

  8. 8 - AppetiteforChina on February 22nd, 2008

    Wow…very creative. I have been looking for lighter recipes to make in between days of more gluttonous eating. Thanks!

  9. 9 - Sherxr on February 22nd, 2008

    Yums! Gorgeous! You’re an inspiration to food bloggers!

  10. 10 - shara on February 22nd, 2008

    this looks amazing!

  11. 11 - Mansi on February 22nd, 2008

    You wouuldn’t believe me, but I was just going to make Almond Pesto sauce for my ravioli tonight!!:) that looks great Fernando:)

  12. 12 - valentina on February 22nd, 2008

    What a lovely recipe. I am already itching to try the blanched almonds with the pesto.wow!Now, on a different note, I thought a lot of you this week as I received my latest purchase. A book called Turquoise by Geoff Malouf , the Australian chef.It is a culinary trip of Turkey. All the bits on Istanbul mananged to bring my trip back to life..it was such a wonderful read. I was wondering what you would think of it.

  13. 13 - Cenk on February 23rd, 2008

    Hi Valentina – I am putting it on my Amazon shopping list for next month!

  14. 14 - gizem on February 24th, 2008

    Almond & pesto. Himmm, they look sexy! I will try with the regular spaghetti!

  15. 15 - unpeudtout on February 25th, 2008

    Great recipe. I LOVE whole wheat pasta and don’t cook regular pasta at all anymore. It is definately worth keeping an open mind about.

  16. 16 - kate on February 26th, 2008

    truly fantastic.It has all my favourite flavours in there, now all you have to do is pass the plate here.

  17. 17 - Amanda on February 26th, 2008

    Great recipe and your photography is amazing, can I ask what camera you are using?

    Thanks 🙂

  18. 18 - Cenk on February 26th, 2008

    Thank you Amanda! I have a Canon 40d.

  19. 19 - Aly on May 20th, 2008

    This recipe was fantastic and I actually made it with Al Dente pasta with their Carbonatta pasta. It’s a low calorie and low carb pasta and it was amazing. It’s worth checking out their website.


  20. 20 - Aly on May 30th, 2008

    I just realized that I spelled Carbonatta wrong. It’s Carba-nada. I don’t want to confuse anyone and it’s really worth trying!

  21. 21 - Meredith on July 24th, 2009

    This recipe was easy to make, and it was quite filling considering how healthy it is. I will definitely make this again.

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