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Avocado & lemon pesto spaghetti with Parma ham

This delicious pesto dish is ready to eat in the time it takes to cook the pasta and is a great way to use up really ripe avocados. I use a couple of tricks to make this recipe extra special – using avocado creates a light and creamy pesto, and is a healthier alternative to cream or oil. I also add a little of the starchy cooking water to the sauce to help it to coat all of the spaghetti.

Serves 4


  • 300g spaghetti
  • a large bunch of fresh basil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g pine nuts, toasted
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 avocados, really ripe
  • Β½ lemon, zest only
  • 4 slices of Parma ham
  • salt and pepper

(You will need a pestle and mortar or a food processor)

Preheat the grill on a medium heat and boil a kettle. Add the spaghetti to a large pan of salted boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, roughly chop up the basil and add to your pestle and mortar with the garlic, parmesan, lemon zest and most of the toasted pine nuts (saving a small handful for later.) Give everything a good bash to form a rough paste (if using a processor, blitz everything together.)

Lay your Parma ham slices flat on a baking tray and place under the grill for around 5 minutes until the rind is crispy and golden.

Cut open your avocados lengthways through the centre and remove the stone. Scoop out the flesh and place in a mixing bowl. Add the basil paste and mash everything together with a fork or potato masher. Taste and season with black pepper and salt.

Once your pasta is cooked, add 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid to the pesto and give it a good mix until smooth. Drain your the spaghetti, then add to the mixing bowl and mix using a pair of tongs or a fork. Divide between bowls. Finish by taking your crispy Parma ham and crumbling over each bowl, followed by a sprinkle of pine nuts.


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