I regularly need dinner in a bit of a hurry. It’s not that I’m so important that I need to be in many places at one time – in fact pretty much the opposite – it’s more that I just seem to be incredibly busy at the moment.

Last Friday, for example, I got home from work a little later than I intended (and had accidentally consumed a glass of wine or six) and realised that I needed something to fill me up and bring me back to the land of sobriety pretty smartish if I had any chance of being as productive on Saturday as I needed to be (you’ll see in the next post just how that backfired). My staple fall back for this is everyone’s favourite quick dish, pesto pasta. Except in a red wine and goats cheese (yes, the office got given some and we obviously couldn’t have it without red wine) haze I completely forgot to buy pesto. Between this and the whole tabbouleh debacle, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m losing the plot.

Basil and Spinach PastaConveniently I’d needed basil a couple of nights before and seem to now permanently have a bag of spinach in the fridge – or the leftovers of one in the freezer – so I had a solution, I’d quickly knock together my own using the spinach and basil pesto that I posted about a little while back. This time though, to make it even more wholesome, I decided to fry off some onions garlic and lightly cook the remains of a pack of mange tout that I had in the fridge.

This was really a meal thrown together as it was made. Somewhat surprisingly it actually tasted quite good (I had the leftovers a day or so later – so can corroborate Friday’s thoughts) so I think it’s a recipe worth sharing and one I’ll be bearing in mind for future occasions where dinner is required in a rush. All I need to do now is to learn how to take photos which are less blurry than my wine head.

Pesto Pasta Plus

This recipe was thrown together as I went along, so is an original to The Usual Saucepans; it’s not a complex recipe though so any similarities to other recipes are coincidental. You could jazz this up with a bit of chilli, or perhaps even some roasted red peppers. It serves two.


1 large handful of basil
2 large handfuls of spinach
1 clove of garlic
1/2 an onion
1/2 pack of mange tout (about a handful)
110g pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper


Put a large pan of water on to boil. Lightly salt it and add the pasta.

Chop the onion, garlic and veg roughly. Lightly fry off the onions and garlic in 1 tbsp of oil, then add the mange for about 30 seconds (if your spinach is frozen add it in with the mange tout). Remove from the pan and place in a large bowl/food processor with the basil, spinach (if it’s not already in), olive oil, salt and pepper. Blitz it with a stick blender until it is almost smooth – or go for the ‘rustic’ approach.

Drain the pasta and pour it back into the pan. Add in your pesto and put back on the heat to ensure it’s warmed though.

Serve and enjoy. Goes well with garlic bread, parmesan grated on the top and a large glass of wine.

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