My Life in Peru

An Expat Mom Shares Her Experiences with Peruvian Life, Travel and Food

Tallarin Verde – Peruvian Green Spaghetti

Posted on | June 1, 2010 | 33 Comments

Back in my old life in Florida, I was never really much of a pesto eater.  Not because I dislike it, but simply because it’s not something that ever came up in my day to day life.  But since I’ve come to Peru, I’ve learned to love tallarin verde (green noodles), which is a pesto dish.   This typically Italian dish is another great example of just how much influence immigrants have had on the cuisine here.  And it’s really easy to make!

Serves 4-5 people

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Tallarin Verde
(This recipe was modified in Jan 2012)


  • 1 lb of spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • vegetable oil for cooking
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • a heaping cup of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 3-4 cups of fresh spinach, rinsed
  • 3 walnuts (shelled, optional)
  • 200 grams of queso blanco or queso fresco or farmer’s cheese (You can substitute feta in a pinch, but remember to adjust the salt)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • Salt to taste

1)  Cook the noodles according to the directions (I add oil and a teaspoon or so of salt to the cooking water)

2) While waiting for the water for the noodles to come to a boil, you can get all your other ingredients chopped, rinsed and minced.

3) While the pasta cooks:  In a large frying pan, saute the onion and the minced garlic in a little bit of oil.  When the onion is translucent, add the basil, and then the spinach.  Cover and cook until the greens are wilted.

4) Move the greens mixture to the blender, add the walnuts (if used)  and cheese. Blend until will blended – you want to make sure there are no fibers from the stems left. and add the milk, the walnuts, and the cheese.  Liquify until well blended, but it’s nice to still see some flecks of basil and spinach.  If it’s too thick, add a little evaporated milk.

5) Add salt to taste, if needed.

6) When the pasta is done, drain it and then toss it together with the pesto/spinach sauce.


We always have this with chicken and papas a la Huancaina.  Put a mound of the tallarin on your plate and sprinkle it with a little Parmesan cheese, serve the potatoes on the side, and lay the chicken on top (Milanesa is perfect for this – see the link below!).  Yum, yum!

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33 Responses to “Tallarin Verde – Peruvian Green Spaghetti”

  1. Michelle
    June 1st, 2010 @ 21:00

    nice! my recipe is wayyy different. lots of basil, fresh garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, in the blender. i always serve with baked chicken….yum.

  2. Kelly
    June 2nd, 2010 @ 00:50

    I’ve noticed some people use spinach and some people don’t – I like using it to get a little bit more green veggies into the kids. 😉

  3. Maria
    June 8th, 2010 @ 22:01

    Kelly, you know I am married to an Italian and also work with Italians…they almost fainted when they saw my version of Pesto (Tallarin Verde), the same one you have…

    In Italy, they blend (food processor) everything, basil, garlic, pine nuts, fresh pepper, sea salt, sometime cheese, oil and mix it with the pasta. No cooking at all.

    I love the one with spinach, maybe not exactly the original recipe, but it makes it much easier to digest than pure basil and garlic. Just my humble opinion.


  4. Kelly
    June 8th, 2010 @ 23:43

    I guess it is shocking for them to see how the recipe has changed in the hands and kitchens of the Peruvians 😉

    I’ve got to figure out how I make my tallarin rojo next. The problem isn’t cooking it – it’s figuring out what I do so that I can put it in writing!

  5. Stacey
    June 29th, 2010 @ 12:45

    We had basil pesto with pasta for dinner last night! It was great, but next time I’m going to try your recipe & add spinach! Thanks for sharing!
    Stacey´s last blog post ..Sleep Tight

  6. Kelly
    June 29th, 2010 @ 14:05

    Anything that gets the kids to eat more greens is good with me – hope you like it!

  7. Ashley
    October 1st, 2010 @ 10:58

    I am on my way to the store right now to pick up the ingred. I have tried this a few times at my peruvian boyfriend’s mom’s house. And it is awesome. Not sure if this is her recipe. But we will soon see. And I now what you mean about putting the red spig. in writing. But that as well is an AWESOME DISH! Peruvians have pretty much a lot of amazing foods. And better than Italian if you ask me!!

  8. Kelly
    October 1st, 2010 @ 12:44

    Good luck! I hope it comes out really good – better than the Mom’s! 😀 I’ll get around to the red tallarines.. eventually. *blush*

  9. Mom
    October 7th, 2010 @ 10:33

    Let’s have it when I get there. yum

  10. Kelly
    October 8th, 2010 @ 01:11

    Will do!

  11. patti
    December 2nd, 2010 @ 00:06

    I am SO hoping this is what we eat when we are in Peru. I have been trying for 4 years to get the recipe. They can’t, and I can’t seem to translate it into English well enough to even resemble the awesome green spagetti. We are heading back to Peru again this summer and I can’t wait….so I am going to try your recipe asap!!! Chow!

  12. patti
    December 3rd, 2010 @ 02:26

    The only ingredient that surprised me was the walnuts. I don’t remember anything like that in my green spagetti down there. Is that something that makes a much of a difference?

  13. Kelly
    December 3rd, 2010 @ 08:38

    You can leave them out – most people do, but they are a traditional ingredient. They aren’t left in chunks – it’s well blended into the pesto.

  14. Francklin
    April 28th, 2011 @ 14:07

    I live in USA and since my American wife tried the green spaghetti, I cooked once, she has become a fun of the Peruvian Cuisine :)

  15. Carla
    July 5th, 2011 @ 03:03

    Oh Gawd! This looks so tempting. I’ll be trying this first thing when I get home.

  16. Kelly
    July 5th, 2011 @ 11:52

    Thanks! It’s my kid’s favorite meal.

  17. christmas in miami plus tarrarin verde | the talking kitchen
    December 25th, 2011 @ 07:12

    […] verde slightly adapted from  My Life in Peru […]

  18. Luisa
    June 11th, 2012 @ 18:43

    Tallarin Verde was one of my favourite dishes when I was a kid. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! I made it for my kids and husband. They love it!

  19. Kim Hoffman
    August 18th, 2012 @ 20:50

    sounds delicious!

  20. Kelly
    August 18th, 2012 @ 23:48

    Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Michelle
    September 8th, 2012 @ 16:22

    What a fantastic recipe! I adore making pesto, but around here basil is rather expensive… This is such a great idea! (Totally going to pretend I also went to Peru!)

  22. Kelly
    September 8th, 2012 @ 16:29

    Haha! I’ll totally back you up! Hope you like the tallarines.

  23. Ellen
    September 10th, 2012 @ 12:02

    usually this recipe is with almonds instead of walnuts – any way both taste good although i never tasted it with walnuts!
    good luck!

  24. Kelly
    September 10th, 2012 @ 17:27

    Pecans are also used – I never really noticed much of a difference with or without, to be honest.

  25. peruvian princess
    November 29th, 2012 @ 20:03

    I am from cusco peru at my age 7 my mother introduce me to the culinary art the kitchen and my first time I burnn the food I forgot to add water but afther that I learn at my age 8 I become I think the best lil chef in the house I learn from white spaguetty to orange spaguetty to red apaguetty and green spaguetty and also the bake spaguetty was my favorite and actually peruvuan cusine believe or not is a varieaty from like diferent countries like 8 they migrate to peru from italian to french to gernan to japanese to cantanese to african and indian and you name it so when the peruviann food was put together you can imagin hope one day I can put some of my recipes I actually created. Annd perfectionated one recipe red with a lots of vegetables blended and just prepared I have some secret ingredient that make the spaguetty not salty not acidic but in the dot to enjoy so now you know a lil bit from the peruvian cusine the origen and also I want to point something is that every city in peru have diferent way to prepare the delicious dishes and diferent spicies that makes the delicious recipes enjoyable also while in cusco we have diferent way to prepare the rocoto relleno o papa a la huancaina in another city they have another stile so is variety so now hope you enjoy your green spaguetty manya le fetuccini baci :)

  26. Noah
    January 19th, 2013 @ 02:53

    Just wanted to point out that among the cheeses you can use, Whole Ricotta also works well for a slightly sweeter, less salty, version of this dish and added at the very end just as in this recipe. My mother used to use Ricotta because we could not find Queso Blanco where we lived up north and it turned out really good!!

  27. Kelly
    January 19th, 2013 @ 19:58

    Oh, that sounds really good, too! I love ricotta cheese!

  28. Brent
    March 10th, 2013 @ 18:24

    Honestly I feel like most Peruvians would be insulted if they saw this recipe, one of the most important parts of serving this dish is to serve it with bistec encebollado, look up a recipe online, it is almost literally mandatory to serve with this dish.

  29. Brent
    March 10th, 2013 @ 18:25

    Also cheers, I forgot to mention that this is an otherwise wonderful recipe :)

  30. Kelly
    March 10th, 2013 @ 18:48

    That’s a fair point – but I doubt anyone would be insulted by me saying it can be served with chicken? It’s my son’s favorite dish,and we get it a couple times a week from the local “menu” – it usually comes with milanesa or higado encebollado.

  31. Brent
    March 10th, 2013 @ 19:21

    I sent the second comment hoping that you would realize I was being humorous, it is just more often than not served with bistec so I find it interesting they serve it with chicken in a resteraunt, but cuisine vary by family, region, country, etc…cheers!

  32. Kelly
    March 10th, 2013 @ 21:25

    Oops – my bad :) Didn’t catch the second one right away. Thanks!

  33. Brent
    March 10th, 2013 @ 22:00

    No problem, like the blog btw :)

    I am hoping to start a culinary blog here soon :) any blogging tips?


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    I got tired of life happening while I made other plans, so I quit my job and came to Peru. I live here with my Peruvian husband, two sons, three dogs and various other family members, depending on the weather.

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