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Spicy Pesto Cascatelli

Difficulty Level: Easy

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 2-4 servings


  • 1/2 lb. Cascatelli or other short pasta

  • 1 cup basil leaves, packed

  • 3 oz. fresh baby spinach

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (seeds removed if you don't want it to be too spicy)

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 oz. stracciatella

  • 1/3 cup Pecorino Sardo (or other hard cheese), grated

  • 1/2 cup lemon-garlic panko breadcrumbs

Lemon-Garlic Panko Breadcrumbs:

  • 1/2 cup plain panko breadcrumbs

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 1/4 tsp. salt


Lemon-Garlic Panko Breadcrumbs:

  1. In a large sauté pan over low heat, add the olive oil and sauté the minced garlic for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

  2. Stir in the panko breadcrumbs along with the salt and toast in the pan, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon (be careful not to burn!).

  3. Once the breadcrumbs are light brown in color, add the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir and continue to toast over low heat for about 2-3 more minutes until the lemon juice is fully absorbed.

Spicy Pesto Cascatelli:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

  2. Add the spinach and basil to a food processor along with the pine nuts, garlic, jalapeño, Parmigiano and salt.

  3. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the ingredients are well blended and the pesto is the consistency you would like. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon and blend again.

  4. Once the water comes to a boil, add plenty of salt. Cook the pasta until it's al dente. Strain and reserve 3/4 cup pasta water.

  5. Add the pasta directly to a large sauté pan along with the pesto sauce and 1/4 cup pasta water. Toss over low heat. Add more pasta water as needed, 1/4 cup at a time.

  6. Plate and top with stracciatella, breadcrumbs and grated Pecorino Sardo.


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