Brain Healthy Dinner – Walnut and Spinach Pesto Pasta

Check out this brain-healthy dinner recipe from our doctors at Community Neuroscience Services!  It’s easily adapted for a strict plant-based diet.  This Walnut and Spinach Pesto Pasta is not only a delicious and satisfying dish but also offers several brain-healthy benefits. Here’s why:

  1. Walnuts: Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health and cognitive function. They also contain antioxidants that help protect brain cells from oxidative damage.
  2. Spinach: Spinach is a nutrient-dense leafy green that provides vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate and iron. These nutrients contribute to optimal brain health and have been associated with improved cognitive function.
  3. Basil: Basil contains essential oils that have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties help support brain health and may contribute to improved memory and cognitive performance.
  4. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, which have been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and improved overall brain function.

By incorporating these brain-boosting ingredients into a flavorful pesto sauce, this Walnut and Spinach Pesto Pasta offers a nourishing and delicious way to support brain health. Enjoy the vibrant flavors and the nutritional benefits of this brain-healthy dish!

Walnut and Spinach Pesto Pasta


  • 8 ounces whole wheat or gluten-free pasta
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast for a vegan option)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: additional grated Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, grated Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast), olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta and the walnut-spinach pesto. Toss until the pasta is well coated with the pesto sauce.
  4. Serve the walnut and spinach pesto pasta with optional toppings such as additional grated Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves.



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