Lemon infused spinach and basil pesto pasta

We are huge pesto lovers – the complete family including the preschooler! I think of it as a milder Italian version of my mint cilantro chutney. When the garden blooms with an abundance of basil and spinach, I always make pesto in bulk and freeze it in ice trays and we use it through the winter. When I made pesto for the first time I was a little overwhelmed but quickly realized that it is such a fool proof recipe. I mean what is there not to like about the ingredients – basil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic and olive oil! Being a mom obsessed with vegetable intake and balanced diet, I add spinach to my pesto and walnuts along with the pine nuts. This recipe can be tweaked as per your liking to reduce or increase some ingredients.

For the pesto

Basil – 1 cup
Baby spinach leaves – 1 cup
Pine nuts and walnuts – 1/4 cup
Garlic – 4 pods
Olive oil – 1/4 cup
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese – 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper as per taste

Clean and add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor or blender and chop together. When they are finely chopped slowly drizzle olive oil into the mix until everything comes together. Your pesto is ready. This can be stored either in air tight jars if you are going to use it up within a week. Since I make a huge batch in the end of summer I freeze it in ice trays and thaw it whatever I need.

For the pasta

Fusilli pasta – 1 cup cooked
Lemon zest – 2 tsp
Peas – 1/2 cup
Cherry or grape Tomatoes – 1/2 cup chopped
Pesto – 1/2 cup
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
Olive oil/ butter – 1 tbsp
Basil chiffonade for garnish

Heat butter/ olive oil in a pan. Add tomatoes and sauté lightly. Add the paste, pesto, lemon juice, peas, salt and pepper and mix together. Garnish with basil and serve with roasted veggies. I served it with roasted asparagus. You could use Brussels sprouts or curried roasted cauliflower as well.

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