Pea and Spinach Pesto Pasta

Pea and Spinach Pesto Pasta

This dish has been my saviour throughout January – I mean who could say no to a bowl of creamy pine nut and basil pesto tossed with peas, brown rice pasta, wilted spinach and then finished with lots of lemon and black pepper?! I’ve made it a few too many times but still can’t get enough of it. It’s the simplest thing to throw together, it really does just take ten minutes to make and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients at all. I love the simplicity of it though, I think that’s why I keep coming back to it, as I know that no matter how tired or hungry I am, I can whip it up quickly and feel so nourished and satisfied afterwards. All the ingredients are so delicious too and they come together perfectly, you’re going to love it!Serves 4

For the pesto

– 2/3 of a cup of pine nuts, 100g

– 2/3 of a cup of olive oil, 200ml

– a big handful of fresh basil, 30g

– 2 cloves of garlic

– 2 lemons

– salt

For the pasta

– pasta, I use brown rice pasta

– half a bag of frozen peas, 300g

– a bag of spinach, 200g

– 1 lemon

Tear all the basil leaves off their stems, juice the lemons and peel the garlic. Then place all these with the other pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Leave this to one side while you make the pasta.

Place the pasta and the peas into a saucepan with boiling water and cook until the pasta is ready. Drain the pasta and the peas, then place them back into the saucepan along with the pesto and spinach. Cook everything together on a low heat until the pesto is warm and the spinach has wilted. Finally squeeze the juice of the last lemon over the pasta, sprinkle it with salt and add lots of black pepper before serving and enjoy!


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  • Louezees

    Yum! ❤️

  • Anna

    Hi Ella, this recipe is excactly what I’ve been looking for – simple yet healthy! I can’t wait to try it :) I work as an au pair with two wonderful little children who love everything sugary. We’re currently trying to cut down their refined sugar intake so one day I decided to make your sweet potato brownies. They couldn’t get enough of them :) Thanks for all your amazing recipes and the passion you put into creating them for us! I can’t wait to hold your book in my hands :) x

  • Neelie

    Hi Ella, I love the sound of this recipe but I cant stand peas….is there anything you suggest substituting them with? Thanks

  • Neelie

    Hi Ella, I love the sound of this recipe but I cant stand peas….is there anything you suggest substituting them with? Thanks

  • Ursula

    perfect combination <3

  • Helene Kittinger

    Hi Ella,
    I want to try your recipe for Superfood Almond Butter Cups. I am not sure though how much almond butter 1 jar is – is it made out of two cups of almonds?
    I love your recipes – thank you for sharing them!

  • Colleen Swanger

    What might you recommend instead of peas? Edamame? I can’t get anyone here to eat them. :)

  • Daisy Comber

    This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it x

  • Mary Ciulla

    Hi Ella! Is there a way to have a print-friendly button for your recipes, maybe I overlooked it? It helps to save paper and the expensive ink in my printer.

  • lovealwayserica

    This looks absolutely DELICIOUS. I love pesto pasta to no end, and the addition of peas is always super fresh. Thanks, Ella!

  • Marilyn Smith

    Absolutely gorgeous I made this for dinner tonight. My other half was suitably impressed and its great as it was gluten free for him, as he is coeliac and dairy free myself, as I have an intolerance to dairy xx

  • Laura

    I just made this, it is absolutely delicious!! This will definitely become a regular! Thanks!!

  • Karen Ferguson

    How much pasta should I use?

  • Jason Nicholls

    I’ve got ADHD and mild Aspergers. I spend my life on high doses of Concerta.

    Sugar is a killer for me, and has me bouncing off the walks. I’ve done diets where I’ve cut out wheat and dairy before, and had really good experiences.

    But ultimately I’ve got bored and gone back to eating impulsively, which starts the whole cycle again.

    Your blog is beautiful though, it really captured my attention. The photography is good enough to eat itself, and I’ve pre-ordered your book too. So here’s hoping :-)

  • Nicole

    What a great fresh supper, you are right, a veritable saviour and so easy to throw together in a cinch. All the ingredients (minus brown rice pasta but in our case that could easily be substituted) are always here, so next week sees definitely some of this – with a beetroot starter. Thank you, so much.
    Nicole @

  • GleeofLife

    Amazing, this is making me drool right now!

  • Petite Paulina

    I’ve just found your blog after reading the article in the Daily Mail. I can’t believe I haven’t come across it sooner but I’m delighted to have found it now. I’m currently struggling with ideas for healthy but easy and convenient meals for lunches at work and after 5 minutes on your site I’ve got about 20 different ideas! Amazing website, I can’t wait to try out some of your recipes.

  • RockPaperBeauty

    This looks so delicious! I would be tempted to sprinkle some Parmesan on top!

  • Rebecca Thompson

    Ella, I’ve just read your most recent article in the Daily Mail, and I wanted to say… “you go girl!” keep up the amazing work. You’ve really give me some great new recipe ideas. Thanks! xx

  • Alice Haddon

    Hi Ella,
    I am a student on a tight budget and was wondering what the best replacement for pine nuts would be? They’re very expensive here in South Africa.
    Thank you for such lovely blog!
    Alice x

  • Evelyne Self

    I don’t like Pine nuts and so used Walnuts. I topped with Nutritional Yeast. It was absolutely delicious.

  • Nicola Wilkinson

    ahh just made this with my housemate- so amazed how easy it is to make pesto! so delicious, we have been singing your praises #ellaloving

  • Nicola Wilkinson

    ahhh just made this with my housemate, didn’t realise how easy it was to make pesto! have been signing your praises far and wide at #ellaloving

  • Fabey

    Just made this – OMG sooooooo good!!! I want to cut out sugar, processed foods, gluten etc for health reasons and saw your article in the mail. It really resonated with me so I have decided to go just go for it!! I don’t want to say “i’m becoming a strict vegan” as I don’t think I can (love cheese WAAAYYYY too much!) but I am certainly going to give it a go! x

    • Suzi

      You can buy vegan cheese, known as Sheese. I’m not vegan but I’ve tried it and it tastes just like the real thing and is probably less fattening too! :-)

  • Verea

    Can’t wait to try this and all the other recipes in your book. Looking forward to meeting you at the Anthropologie event next week :)

  • Nancy Poller

    I’m so making this this week…

  • Elina H.

    Oh! A recipe with some of my favorite ingredients (pesto and spinach) :) Can’t wait to try this one out! Thanks, Ella for all the inspiration. It really makes my day to read new posts and recipes from you. Most of my friends are not so interested in healthy and nutritious food, so knowing that there are amazing people like you who are so passionate about a healthy way of living, makes me really happy! So thank you!! Wishing you all the best for 2015!

  • Lynda S

    I really enjoyed this but wouldn’t add the last squeeze of lemon juice next time. The lemon taste overpowered the other favors.

  • Be Good Organics

    Yum looks delicious Ella! I make a very similar combo that I also love but with my pesto recipe using cashew nuts (more affordable in NZ than pinenuts), and using some of our gorgeous spring veges here in NZ (zucchini, broccoli, beans, peas). So delicious and so nourishing.

    x Buffy

  • tessii1

    I just found out about this blog and its a big inspiration. I plan on trying out the recipes, but I have a child that cannot have nuts. Is there alternatives to almond butter, or a way to leave out nuts in recipes?

  • bp

    Delicious! Just made the pesto now. Grateful to have discovered you, Ella, and thankful for the work you are sharing with home cooks like me needing cleaner, healthier and exciting recipes! I love food!!!

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Karen, for one serving I would measure out half a bowl of pasta as it expands once you cook it. Hope you love it! X

    • Karen Ferguson

      Thanks, Ella. I made this last night and my husband and I both loved it. Will definitely make it again.

  • Sisley

    This sounds so delicious Ella! I’ve never been a big fan of peas so Im excited to try this out!

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Tessii, you could try sunflower seed spread instead! X

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Alice, you could try using pumpkin seeds instead. I think they are pretty reasonable on Amazon. X

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Colleen, you could try cutting up any green vegetable like broccoli or green beans if you prefer. X

    • Colleen Swanger

      Fantastic! Should have thought of that myself!

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Neelie, you could try cutting up any small green vegetables like broccoli or green beans. Enjoy! X

  • ellawoodward

    So pleased you both loved it! x

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Helene,
    A jar is 170g I think!
    Ella x

  • ANN Wooderson

    Just polished off a big bowl of this, it was absolutely delicious. I’ve made quite a few of your recipes and think this one will become a firm favourite along with the raw brownies, sweet potatoe cakes, sweet potatoe and lentil curry …….. I could go on.

  • Liisa

    Is it possible to cut the oil? I liked the dish but I didn’t like the oil pooled at the bottom.

  • Valerie

    Just made it for a quick dinner – once again Ella, super delicious! Will for sure have it again!
    I didn`t have enough pine so I added some walnuts and only used half of the garlic – still enough for my taste. And for the pasta I used dinkel what got a nice sweet taste through the lemon.
    How much pasta did you use?

  • Kristen

    Hi Ella- just wondering if there is a way to make your recipes printer friendly? I’m always copying and pasting into a Word Document! thanks for all you do!

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Kristen, I’m really sorry but it’s the way the website is designed. All my new recipes will be in hard copy in my new book! Have a beautiful day! X

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Liisa, the oil is what helps to blend the ingredients together to create a creamy texture. You could use less oil if you prefer. Have a beautiful day! X

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Valeria, that sounds delicious, so glad you loved it! I measured out one small bowl of pasta as it expands when it cooks. Have a beautiful day! X

  • Emily Hargrave

    Hi, Just wondered what brands of pasta you use and where you get these? I usually buy supermarket own GF and when I have ordered any unusual ones in the hope they’ll be more exciting or not just made with maize etc they’re always really stodgy and become one big pasta ball no matter how I cook them. It seems a shame to make such a nice sauce and not have nice pasta too! Also so nice to have this site for ideas on healthy gf foods, restaurants and ideas where it’s not just omitting half the menu/ingredients and really looking forward to having a cook book where I don’t have to earmark the pages I can eat!

  • Suzi

    Hi Ella, I saw your article in the Mail and I could really identify with what you said. I too have had to change my diet due to stomach problems and have been trying to move away from ready meals to cooking from scratch. I have found a couple of recipes but needed some more, so I checked out your blog and thought that this pea and spinach pesto pasta would be a nice, easy way to begin. Well I’ve just made this recipe. It was a bit of a risk for me because I don’t like spinach and also because it’s teatime and I’m starving but I needn’t have worried: it’s really lovely and very filling! :-) Just one question, do I store any leftovers in the fridge or at room temperature? :-) Thank you so much, I will definitely be making this again.

  • Ann Vandeleene

    Indeed OMG sooo good!! I just made it and I love it!! So easy to make and just takes 10min, now I don’t have any excuses to not eat healthy :)
    This week I also made your curry, you are really an inspiration!!!
    Thanks Ella!!

  • cyanto

    Thank you for sharing this recipe; so delicious!!

    Just moved from a 110W country to a 240W one so do not yet have a mixer so I had to hand grind the pine nuts, finely chop the basil and ‘grate’ the garlic and then hand mix all the pesto ingredients together but it worked out completely fine. Having used 250g of quinoa fusilli, the ratio of the veggies (peas+spinach) to pasta was great (2:1), usually the pasta is the star, but not in this dish. Yumm!

    Will definitely be adding this to my cooking repertoire. Can’t wait for the mister to try it too!

  • Sarah Noat

    Hi Ella,

    My stepson and 5 year old daughter are both skipping lunch at school today, and I am definitely making this for them today. They love pasta and pesto (both homemade!), as well as peas and spinach, so I’m guessing they will like all of those ingredients together! And, since I always have those ingredients at hand, it will be a doddle for me to make! Thank you Ella!

  • jessica

    I have made the choc brownies are out of this world .my 6 year old that doesn’t like fruit veg or nuts .has now eat sweet potatoes, dates, almonds,and cant get enough of them .thank you ella.

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Suzi, so glad you love the recipe! I would store the leftovers in the fridge. Keep up the amazing cooking! X

    • Suzi

      Thanks Ella, just having the leftovers for lunch now and it’s just as amazing as when I made it last night. this is definitely going to be a recipe staple, thanks again! x

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Emily, Rizopia is my favourite brand for pasta but any brown rice pasta would be great for this recipe! Have a lovely day! X

  • Val

    Hi Ella, where can I buy brown rice pasta? Thank you

    • ellawoodward

      Hi Val, you can buy brown rice pasta from any local health food store or Amazon. X

      • Val

        Thanks Ella and for all your amazing healthy tips x

  • Sarah Noat

    Well, made it, ate it, can’t wait to try it again. Kids loved it, and took seconds. A little bit left over for my daughter tomorrow. I shall be eating your yummy curry tonight, can’t wait !

  • Food and My iPhone

    I love the name of your blog, and the pictures are so beautiful. First time to browse through and I know I will be back to try so many of your lovely recipes.

  • Sarah Rowan

    That was soooo amazing!!!! Goodbye jars of pesto! How much pasta would you recommend to cook with this sauce?

  • Kim Way

    Just ordered your book Ella. Cannot wait to receive it and start transforming my health. Thank you

  • Vanessa

    Another sensational dish Ella, eating my way to health <3 can't wait for your book to come out in Australia. Vanessa <3

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Sarah, so glad you love it! I measured out a small bowl of pasta before I cooked it as the pasta tends to expand. X

  • lovealwayserica

    Corn pasta – what say you? Thoughts? I’m still undecided.

  • ellawoodward

    I’ve not tried corn pasta before. I personally love brown rice pasta! X

  • Sophia Nerdrum

    Delicious!!! Thanks Ella! xx

  • Melanie Stahl

    Hi Ella! Firstly Thank you, thank you, thank you for your amazing blog. I live in Germany and can’t find brown rice pasta anywhere and didn’t know it existed until I started using your blog. Thankfully I have found a website where I can get it delivered to Germany. Pasta is back on the menu:-) I’m intolerant to all wheat, dairy and egg products and my immune system sucks. I have a feeling your blog is going to change my life:-). Just as well I read The Daily Mail :-). I have already made your chickpea, carrot and mushroom stew….HEAVEN!! Can I order your cookbook from to be delivered to Germany? Thanks again, Melxoxo

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Melanie, thank you so much for your message. I’m so happy that you can now get excited about healthy eating. Yes I think you can order it from Amazon, and there will be a German version coming soon! Have a lovely day! X

    • Melanie Stahl

      Thank you so much for replying to me personally:-). I have just ordered your book and ordered my first packet of cacao powder. I’m going mad now. Have a good day and looking forward to joining you on this food journey:-)

  • Nadia

    Just made this today (without the peas, but that’s just because I didn’t have any :-) ) and it was superb!

  • Joi @ Joiful

    I love this dish soooo much! I recreated it and put the pictures up on the blog today :-) Made it with Edamame & mung bean pasta though, which was super delicious! Thanks so much for the inspiration again, Elle! Joi x

  • ellawoodward

    Looks so delicious! X

  • maddymorton

    This dish is BRILLIANT. I just made it for my family with a side of your broccoli with tahini dressing and my 13 yr old daughter who ‘doesn’t like veg’ licked the plate clean. Even the peas. I am made up

  • Eight Hours

    I’m gluten free and have recently been diagnosed with Gastro Paresis queue a huge lifestyle change.
    It’s hard to find recipes suitable but this is a great start.
    I’ve even tried to make my own GF healthy Gnocchi. So tasty…

  • Dawn Smith

    Just made this and I love it!!! So good to incorporate peas as I love them but rarely eat them. Would this be ok in the fridge so I can have more for lunch tomorrow? ?? How many days do you think it would keep for? I love it! I usex extra virgin olive oil, hope thats right?

    • ellawoodward

      Hi Dawn, yes it’s the perfect meal to have the next day. I would store it in a tupperware in the fridge for about 3 days. That olive oil sounds great too! Have a lovely day! X

  • Claudia Morrison

    I made this for dinner tonight, but substituted the peas for cherry tomatoes. Such a yummy dish! And so easy and quick to make :)

  • Esther

    Hello Ella
    Would you consider using chick pea pasta?
    Thanks for the great recipes.

    • ellawoodward

      Hi Esther, I have tried chick pea pasta before but I prefer the texture of brown rice pasta. Hope you love the recipes! X

  • Becks

    made this last night for dinner , fabulous. and enough for left over lunch box today

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Madeleine, that’s so awesome to hear. It’s amazing to be able to get inspired by your own personal journey. I hope you continue to enjoy the recipes and keep up your healthy journey! Ella x

  • Camille Guertin

    OMG. THIS PASTA IS SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS. Thank you for the GREAT recipe (as usual)!!! :)

  • ellawoodward

    That’s a great idea :) x

  • Lyndsey Bell

    Hi Ella I really want to try this but I’m afraid I really detest peas! Would green beans work? Thanks x

    • ellawoodward

      I haven’t tried the recipe with green beans before but if you cut them up finely I imagine that it should work well too! X

  • Mo

    Hi Ella, super tasty pesto. I substituted the basil for rocket and it was yummy! Used the left overs as a sauce on a couscous, roast veg, pea and feta salad the next day. Thanks!

  • ellawoodward

    You could try another green vegetable such as runner beans or broccoli. Hope it still turns out delicious! X

  • francisca balaguer

    No parlo angles però amb el traductor me va bastant be. Tenc 79 anys i m’agrada el que cuines. Fa trenta anys que me mèdic per la hipertensió, som ansiosa i prenc un ansiolític cada dia. Darrerament una metgessa homeòpata m’ ha receptat un complement que not que me va be. Cant a una coral, faig un poc de teatre i quant el menjar, sense sal, quasi no menjar carn, si ous i peix. Som golosa

  • ellawoodward

    Hi Laura, so happy that you’re loving the recipes. The pesto shouldn’t be too runny. Be sure not to over blend it as this can make it become a little too runny. Have a lovely day x

  • mona

    hii Ella…as i lived in Indonesia, its almost impossible to fine pine nut, can i substitute with peanut or cashew?

    • ellawoodward

      Sadly the pine nuts are really vital for the pesto. I haven’t tried using cashew before but I imagine that they wouldn’t work as well. There is a brazil nut pesto recipe in my book! X

    • Dawn Brundige

      Hi Mona, I have made the pesto recipe with Cashew and I really liked it. My husband once developed somethibg called pine mouth after eatting raw pine nuts so we now use cashews as an alternative. If course its not exactly the same, but its a fab option! :)

  • Victoria

    I love asparagus with my pesto pasta – If you give it a try let me know :) x

  • Annie Desmarais

    Hi Ella!
    Your recipe looks delicious!
    I was wondering if I could use less olive oil or a substitute for oil as this dish is quite high in fat (around 50% fat)… The olive oil ads about 350cal per portion…! So the whole dish is about 850-900cal per portion. Isn’t that too much?
    Thanks in advance xxx

    • ellawoodward

      Hi Annie, I don’t count calories or focus on them as I much prefer to count goodness and nutrients instead. You can use less olive oil however this will change the consistency of the pesto. Here is a post all about fat which you might find interesting!

      • Annie Desmarais

        Thank you! I love the way you think about food. I don’t usually count calories either and love to focus on nutrients instead! But is there really much nutrient in olive oil? I thought it was just fat and nothing else..!
        Thanks again!!
        Annie xxx

        • ellawoodward

          That’s awesome! Olive oil contains healthy fats which are essential for a healthy diet. Have a lovely day x

  • ellawoodward

    I use olive oil for this recipe x

  • Amelia Glendinning

    This is delicious, far tastier and more nutritious then original pesto pasta (which has parmesan in it). I have just created a food blog and would really appreciate as many page views and comments as possible, my blog is called

  • ellawoodward

    I have never found the pesto to be too oily before. It should have a really smooth and creamy consistency. If it’s too oily you can always use less olive oil. Make sure you’re not over processing the mixture as this can cause it to become too fluid and will release all the oils in the pine nuts too x

    • Mila Pelkonen

      Oh meaby that was my problem! Thank you :) x

  • ellawoodward

    Yes it will freeze well! Hope you love it x

  • Joie

    I just made this tonight for my Mom and Dad… Oh my goodness it was heavenly! My parents absolutely LOVED it!
    I added some fresh cherry tomatoes on the side as well as a baked sweet potato, which I drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled on some pumpkin seeds and put a touch of salt and pepper over the top. I totally recommend this addition to the meal as it gives it a lively pop of colour and adds even more amazing textures and flavours! Thank you so much Ella for this amazingly creamy and delicious Pesto Pasta! This is without a doubt a family favourite! :)

    • ellawoodward

      So pleased you all loved it! That all sounds so delicious x

  • ellawoodward

    It should keep for about 3 days in an airtight container x

    • Emma

      Thank you for getting back to me x