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Spinach Pesto Pasta with Peas

This bright green pesto is cheesy and mild, making it a perfect sauce for a quick dinner of pasta and peas!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 401kcal


  • 1 pound pasta
  • 4 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 whole lemon)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups frozen peas


To make the pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Place the peas into the colander (still frozen) and drain the pasta over the peas. The peas will thaw almost instantly. Return to the pot.

To make the pesto:

  • Meanwhile, add the spinach, olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan, and seeds to a blender. Blend very well until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season to taste with salt if needed.
  • Toss with the pasta and serve with additional Parmesan cheese and enjoy warm.


  • The pesto can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer in a zip top storage bag (pressed flat and with as much air removed as possible) for up to 3 months.
  • This is enough sauce for a pound of pasta. Use a little less if your pasta package is smaller and store the leftovers for another day.
  • To Use this Spinach Pesto as Pizza Sauce: Simply spread the pesto onto prepared pizza crust and prepare as you normally would with regular tomato-based sauce. For a full size pizza, about 1/2 cup of pesto is usually the right amount. Adjust as needed.
  • Kale Pesto: Swap in baby kale or regular kale removed of the stems for the spinach. Make as directed.
  • Dairy-Free: Omit the cheese and consider adding an extra 1/4 cup sunflower seeds. Add a little nutritional yeast for extra flavor if desired.
  • Add in a handful of basil if you want, though we love this pesto without basil too.
  • To freeze a batch for later, add 1 cup of pesto to a freezer bag, press the air out, flatten, and seal. Freeze for up to 2 months. It will quickly defrost at room temperature. (You can also break off a chunk and add it frozen right into whatever amount of pasta you make and as you stir it in, it will thaw.)
  • Add a few cups of diced and cooked chicken, shrimp, or sausage if desired.
  • Instead of peas, you can use broccoli (toss it into the pasta water for the last 4 minutes while the pasta is cooking), diced zucchini (toss it into the pasta water for the last 2-3 minutes while the pasta is cooking), or leave out another veggie all together.


Calories: 401kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1739IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 2mg