If you love pesto then you are bound to enjoy this spinach pesto pasta that is full of flavor and loaded with healthy nutrients. Our recipe is also incredibly simple to make and you will have a gourmet meal on your table in no time!
Spinach Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto pasta use to be one of those meals that you would see on a restaurant menu and truly enjoy. However, pesto just sounds so advanced, as if it would be challenging to make at home. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Pesto is actually extremely easy to make and in just a few minutes, you can have a fresh, incredibly flavorful sauce on the table, ready to enjoy!
Our recipe utilizes spinach rather than just pure basil which is common in classic pesto recipes. In addition to adding pure bulk to this recipe (you do not need to invest in cups and cups of expensive of basil anymore!), it also adds flavor and nutrition which we will talk about later. Despite being made with mostly spinach, the fresh taste of basil still shines through.
In addition to giving you a great recipe for spinach pesto, our recipe also gives all the instructions needed to make perfect pesto pasta with spinach and tomatoes, making a perfect pasta salad! Serve it hot, enjoy it cold, no matter what you are going to love this dish.
How To Make Spinach Pesto Pasta
We have already said how easy this dish is to create and now let us explain exactly how to make this delicious meal come to fruition. Take a look at these quick steps that will have you enjoying spinach pasta pesto in just a few minutes.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions in a large pot of cooking water. Every type of pasta, from different brands to different shapes, will have different cook times so be sure to follow those package directions to a T to get perfectly cooked pasta. Adding some salt to the cooking water is always recommended to give the pasta a little more flavor.
- While the pasta is cooking, place all the ingredients for the spinach pesto in a food processor and pulse until it is completely smooth. If you do not have a food processor, place all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender instead- both will work well! There is no cooking required for this step.
- Taste the sauce and add a little kosher salt and pepper if needed.
- Saute some grape tomatoes in a large skillet with the olive oil, and garlic powder (a few cloves garlic, minced, will work well too). Once browned, remove the pan from the heat.
- Toss the fresh blended sauce, cooked pasta and tomatoes together and serve!
As you can see, this restaurant-worthy dish only takes a few steps to make and is certainly a recipe that you can master. We are sure that this recipe is going to become one that you cook all the time.
What Goes into Pesto Pasta
All of the ingredients in the pesto sauce play an important role. They either add flavor, nutrition, texture or all of the above. Knowing what all of the ingredients do is essential to understanding the sauce, forwards and backward. Here is a little bit about what each ingredient adds to the sauce:
Spinach- The cups of baby spinach primarily add bulk to this recipe. The thick sauce is primarily made of baby spinach which has a nice smooth texture and a mild flavor. Spinach is also incredibly healthy, adding vitamins like B6, B9, and E along with potassium, magnesium and lots of beneficial carotenoids.
Basil- Basil is the main flavor in the sauce and the taste that everyone associates with pesto. It is important to use fresh basil which has the most taste.
Garlic- Garlic is the second most powerful taste in the sauce and give it a nice spicy kick. If you want to turn up the heat, add a few more cloves of garlic to the food processor. If you want a more subtle sauce, reduce the garlic to just one clove.
Lemon Juice – Lemon makes the pesto brighter and helps enhance all of the flavors in the sauce. While lemon is a powerful taste on it’s own, you won’t taste that lemon flavor once it is blended with all the other ingredients. However, it does make a difference in the recipe, bringing all the tastes together.
Almonds- Almonds are essential in making the sauce taste creamy. The nuts also help bind the sauce and make it nice and smooth.
Parmesan Cheese- Flavor and texture are what parmesan cheese brings to the table. If you add some extra parmesan cheese, cut back on the salt a little bit as the cheese is already quite salty (in a good way!).
Of course, the other items needed to make this pesto have their own roles, but these are the heavy hitters when it comes to flavor, texture and taste. You should still add the olive oil, cup of chopped kale, kosher salt and pepper as directed.
After you cook this meal and enjoy most of it, you may still have some leftover. Luckily, this dish stores well! Put the leftovers in airtight containers and place them in the fridge. The pasta will keep for about 5 days when sealed correctly.
When you are ready to enjoy the pasta, remove it from the fridge, place it on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a microwave plate cover. The cover will prevent the pesto from spattering in your microwave as the pasta reheats, causing a big green mess! Enjoy hot!
You can also skip the reheating and eat the leftovers from this recipe as a cold pasta salad. Sprinkle a little extra salt and pepper over the top, maybe an additional squeeze of lemon juice or a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!
Hopefully, you love this easy recipe and cook it frequently. It is perfect for adults and also kids. If you are looking for more tasty, easy to cook recipes, browse our site which is full of simple but delicious foods. Cooking has never been so fun and tasty!
An easy meal to make that is bursting with fresh flavor and nutrients.
FOR THE PASTA:
- 1 box (16oz) gluten free rigatoni
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup fresh kale
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 3/4 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice from 1 lemon
FOR SAUTEED TOMATOES:
- 1 dry pint of grape tomatoes (halved)
- sea salt + black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta cooks, place the pesto ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
- In large skillet add olive oil, garlic powder and grape tomatoes then cook on high turning periodically to avoid burning (about 5 minutes total).
- When pasta is done and drained, return to pot. Add pesto and tomatoes then mix well. Serve immediately.
For Pesto: you may have to push down the spinach/kale periodically to get everything nice and mixed. Do in two batches if your food processor is small. You should have about 2 cups of pesto when done.
- Cut back on cooking time by using fresh pasta rather than dried. Fresh pasta cooks in just a few minutes and adds a delicious taste to this recipe.
- After the pasta cooks, drizzle it with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- If you do not have baby spinach, using chopped large spinach leaves will work as well. You may want to add a cup more of spinach to make sure you get the quantity of sauce that you need.
- You can skip the cup of chopped kale and replace it with either a cup of fresh basil or another cup of baby spinach leaves.