Red and Green Recipe: Green Penne with Basil-Spinach Pistou, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, and Filet

Red and Green Recipe: Green Penne with Basil-Spinach Pistou, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, and Filet

Put some holiday color on your plate, too, with Red and Green Recipes.

This recipe is a mess of contradictions. Of course, there is the red of the burst roasted cherry tomatoes and the medium rare seared steak, and its color-wheel-opposite green of the spinach penne and the basil-spinach pistou. It is also enormously comforting, but the cream and the filet render it quite refined. It fills you up with heartiness in the winter, and yet the hint of basil and the tomatoes are a wistful reminder of sun-bathed summer.

Pistou is a French version, not surprisingly, of pesto. Usually, the nuts are omitted, but sometimes tomatoes are added, and all different variations occur. This one omits the cheese and is an amalgamation of garlic, spinach, basil, pine nuts, and olive oil. Combined with the steak, this dinner is so packed with iron that I would serve it at an intimate holiday dinner with Popeye at the head of the table. The green of the pasta and the pistou is studded with the red of the tomatoes and the steak—just like a Christmas tree. All you have to do at the table is shower Pecorino Romano all over the top, and you’ll be serving a white Christmas for dinner.


  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 pound of beef filet
  • 1 pound of spinach penne rigate
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, plus 1 cup, packed
  • 1 cup of basil, packed
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons, separated
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Pecorino Romano to taste


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 425°F and bring a large pot of water to boil.

  2. 2.

    Toss the tomatoes on a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes at 425°F.

  3. 3.

    Season the filet with salt and pepper, liberally, on both sides. Heat a sauté pan on high until it is very hot, quickly add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and sear the steak, 6 minutes on each side. Put it aside to rest.

  4. 4.

    When the water is boiling, salt the water, and cook the green penne to al dente.

  5. 5.

    Meanwhile, make the pesto. Put the 1 cup of basil, 2 cups of spinach, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper into the food processor and pulse to break it down. Run the machine, and stream in 1/2 cup of olive oil.

  6. 6.

    Slice the steak into 1-inch cubes. Julienne 1 cup of spinach. Put the tomatoes, steak, spinach, pesto, and cream in the bottom of large bowl. Drain the pasta from the water, and toss, adding a couple of spoonfuls of pasta water if the sauce needs thinning.

  7. 7.

    Grate Pecorino Romano down over the top of the hot pasta.