Pea Walnut Pesto

3 Apr

I hated peas as a kid. In fact, up until about a year ago, the only dish I’d eat with peas was split pea soup! But thanks to my new-found love of almost all vegetables, I’ve given peas another chance. And ya know what? They’re pretty great! Tiny green balls that can be thrown into salads, stir frys, and now, pesto sauce! Added benefit – they’re surprisingly high in protein! So THAT’s why they’re good for you! Who would’ve guessed?

Pesto sauce is another thing I always shied away from. I’m still not a huge fan of the traditional basil-pine nut combo, but I recently learned pine nuts are not completely necessary! Alas, there was a way out of their pine-nutty oddness. Walnuts do a fantastic job as a substitute. And when I saw Nutritionella’s recipe for mint pea pesto linguine, I knew there was a combination out there for me. And now I’d like to share it with you!

Pea Walnut Pesto with Fettucini

A big pot of pesto and pasta….yum!

Pea Walnut Pesto Pasta, adapted from Nutritionella

Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish

  • 3 C frozen peas, thawed to room temp (or fresh!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp raw walnut halves (this is a rough estimate – I used my hand to measure)
  • 3/4 C grated or finely shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz your favorite whole wheat pasta. I used fettuccine from Mara’s Pasta, which is 100% whole wheat, and tastes amazing!*

Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch peas for 2 minutes (not longer, because the sauce will otherwise turn an unappetizing yellow color). Drain peas, and transfer to an ice bath, to halt the cooking process.

Using that same pot (because why dirty more dishes!), bring fresh water to a boil, to cook your pasta. Follow package directions for cooking time for al dente pasta (Mara’s pasta took only 11 minutes).

In the meantime, to a food processor, add 2.5 cups of the peas, garlic, walnuts, parmesan, and salt. Pulse for 2-3 minutes until smooth. It helps to scrape down the sides of the bowl repeatedly. Drizzle in olive oil as you do this. The consistency will be a thick paste.

Pea Walnut Pesto with Mara's Pasta

Thanks to Mara’s Pasta for sending me this delicious fettucini! Really ups the health benefits.

Once pasta is done, drain & rinse, but save the cooking water to use in the sauce – the starchy water helps finish the pesto. Transfer pasta and pesto back into pot. Add the remaining half cup of peas, and cooking water, 1/2 cup at a time (I used about 1.5 cups). Stir everything together well – the sauce should be a creamy consistency, and should cover the pasta.

Serve in bowls, sprinkle with parmesan, and enjoy! Leftovers do well in the fridge – just save some of the cooking water in a container, to get that creaminess in the sauce when you reheat.

Pea Walnut Pesto with Fettucini

A big bowl of pesto pasta, for a post-Zumba dinner!

*All opinions are my own – Mara’s Pasta was generous enough to send me a 3-pack of goodies, and this review is completely voluntary. See my previous post using their product.


22 Responses to “Pea Walnut Pesto”

  1. mixeduppainter April 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    This looks so tasty. I think I need to buy some peas. 🙂

  2. Kierston @candyfit April 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Looks delish! Thanks 4 sharing and for linking up to #recipefriday!

  3. saltysweetsour April 15, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Sounds perfect for spring!

    • xtinaluvspink April 15, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Thanks! It really is!! Leftover pesto also tasted great spread on French bread. So versatile!

  4. Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner July 15, 2016 at 9:12 am #

    Love the nice healthy version of this!

  5. Mikki July 15, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    I am LOVING your blog. You come up with the most fun recipes.

    • xtinaluvspink July 15, 2016 at 10:13 am #

      Oh, thank you so much! I love hearing that 🙂

  6. masala girl July 15, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    LOVE that you added peas in! i found a new love of peas in pasta, a fresh and sweet POP whenever you get one 🙂 i’d still add basil in though!

    • xtinaluvspink July 15, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

      Thanks! It’s a fun spin, and a good way to use up pantry staples. I think Basil is still good any time 🙂

  7. wendyistakingthelongwayhome July 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

    I love pesto! What a creative take, using peas!

  8. Kayla @ Blondes Have More Run July 15, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

    Omg I LOVE pesto and would love to try this version!!

  9. Melissa (@melissagabbs) July 16, 2016 at 12:23 am #

    This looks great! I’ve never tried a pesto with peas before.

  10. Heather Gannoe (@runfastermommy) July 17, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Eww I don’t really like peas either! But I’d certainly be willing to give this a try!

  11. Jill Conyers (@jillconyers) July 18, 2016 at 6:54 am #

    I never would have thought to make pesto with peas. I love peas! Surely I can’t be the only one.

    • xtinaluvspink July 18, 2016 at 7:46 am #

      Heehee, at least I’ve come around now! I put peas on my salad every day.


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