As we welcome in the arrival of spring, let us celebrate with a vibrant, delicious dish that embodies the essence of springtime flavors. This Spring Pesto Pasta recipe is light, bright, sweet, lemony and packed full of antioxidants from this season’s produce. This play on pesto gets an extra nutritional boost from the addition of spinach and peas added to the traditional ingredients. The peas provide a sweetness along with high amounts of plant-based protein and the spinach not only adds an earthy crisp flavor, but is also packed full of fiber and iron. The combination of peas, spinach, basil, garlic, lemon and olive oil creates a scrumptiously healthy sauce utilizing simple, wholesome, and seasonal ingredients that elevates the pasta to create an irresistible springtime meal. Our Spring Pesto Pasta is a delightful, tasty dish that will also support our overall health and energize us to embrace the vitality of growth within the change of season.
- 1 box pasta (lentil, whole wheat, veggie spirals)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cups packed basil
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen)
- 4 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese or vegan parm* (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1-2 Tbsp warm water
*Optional Vegan Parm. To make, Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and pulse until it reaches a small coarse consistency resembling parmigiana cheese
- 3/4 cup almonds
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- Make the pesto sauce by combining all pesto ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until well combined. Add in the olive oil and 1 tbsp of water. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning; you may have to add more water to reach desired consistency. Once pesto is made set it aside.
- Boil water, 1 TBS olive oil has been added (to keep pasta from sticking). Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Drain when al dente.
- While pasta is cooking, heat up a large saute pan over medium heat and add remaining oil. Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. Skin will begin to brown and blister.
- Add the pasta and 1/2 the pesto to the tomatoes and toss to combine. Taste and add more pesto if you like, to reach your desired taste.
Basil: Contains a range of protective vitamins such as Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as essential oils with high antioxidant properties due to the phytochemicals that help reduce oxidative stress in the body. These phytochemicals are known to reduce the risk of cancer, but also prevent age-related macular degeneration, and support liver and cardiovascular health. A unique component of basil is its ability to enhance and preserve the healthful properties of other ingredients it is combined with.
Garlic: Considered a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the “good” bacteria in our gut and promotes a healthy digestive system. Research supports that the compounds in garlic, such as allicin, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and cardioprotective properties. If you chop your garlic 10-15 minutes before using it will have the maximum amount of active allicin.
Citrus juice and zest: Packed full of a multitude of nutrients such as vitamin C, flavonoids, and fiber which aid in vascular protection, reduce inflammation, improve gastrointestinal function and health, and play an important role in preventing diabetes, cancer, neurological disease. The vitamin C in the lemon juice will aid in the intestinal absorption of the iron in the spinach and peas.
Spinach: Greens such as kale, spinach, collards, mustard greens, arugula, and chard have been shown to protect bones from osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, support a healthy gut, strengthen the immune system, protect cognition and supply a high amount of antioxidants. They are considered to be among some of the best cancer-preventing foods.
Green Peas: A great source of plant-based protein content as well as high amounts of fiber to support a healthy digestive tract and iron to aid in adequate cellular oxygenation. The high fiber and protein content can play a role in maintaining desirable blood sugar levels.
Olive Oil: A rich source of monounsaturated fats, olive oil contains antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that exhibit anti-inflammatory effects. Olive oil also promotes gut health.
Tomatoes: A great source of lycopene that helps reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and protect skin integrity. Cooking tomatoes in a healthy fat increases the amount of available lycopene that the body will absorb.