Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle

This post is part recipe, part propaganda: it’s an anti- shop bought pesto campaign. For far too long people have suffered unwittingly, spooning stale herbs swimming in grease on to their pasta. They’ve had their eyes adjusted to the dusty, grey slop that comes out of a jar and learned to call that “pesto”.

Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle
Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle

They’ve drowned their tagliatelle in this gloop, saturated with imitation parmesan - more often than not Grana Padano, a Grade B cheap parmesan knockoff that tastes more like waxy nutritional yeast. They’ve stocked their cupboards with these jars which will probably be dug up by some poor sod in the year 3019, who will taste and then projectile vom it out in shock that people used to settle for this mediocre, bland and oily sludge.

Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle
Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle

And my hope is that you’ll never buy a jar again. Because it is gross. And why should you settle for something (mistakenly) believing it to be convenient, when you can rustle up a real pesto in the same amount of time it takes for your pasta to boil?

Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle

All you need is a blender (a Nutribullet or a hand blender will do), or even, more authentically, just a pestle and mortar.

This dish will set your palate alight: it's summery, zingy, citrusy, umami and outrageously moreish. It’s comfort food without the stodgy cheesiness or greasiness, and it’s ridiculously simple and quick to rustle up.

Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle

NB the pesto can be made a couple of days in advance and stored by placing in a bowl in the fridge and covering the surface with a thin layer of oil. You can also stir the pesto into a variety of other media if you prefer a lower carb meal – I like it with green beans, with cauliflower and sometimes with butterbeans.

Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle

Ingredients (serves 4-6)



100g (60g+ 40g) pinenuts, toasted (you can buy them already toasted or put them in a dry pan on a medium heat, and stir for a couple of minutes until golden)

150g parmesan, grated

150g coriander + 50g to serve

50g basil

15g garlic, crushed (about 3 cloves)

5 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 ½ lemons)

3 tbsp olive oil

1 small mild red chilli (optional)

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

750g tagliatelle (I like to use fresh pasta as it tastes better and cooks more quickly – feel free to use other shapes, or gluten free pasta)



1)    Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

2)    While the pasta is cooking, place 60g pinenuts and the rest of the pesto ingredients in a blender, and pulse until smooth, emulsified but with some texture – I like it a little more textured and with some crunch, but you can keep pulsing until it becomes a smooth paste, if you prefer). If you want to go traditional/caveman by using a mortar and pestle, just crush all the ingredients together until they turn into a fine paste.

3)    Once the pasta is al dente, drain, and stir into it all the pesto until the pasta is completely coated. Top with the remaining 40g of toasted pine nuts, and the torn remaining extra 50g of coriander. Serve immediately.

Lemon Chilli Coriander Pesto Tagliatelle