Recipe: Pasta with Spring Greens & Fresh Spinach Pesto
This post was created in partnership with Appletiser. Happy Meat Free Monday! Today I have teamed up with Appletiser to celebrate the best of new season produce, served with nutty wholemeal pasta in a super delicious, super healthy weeknight for two. While yes, you can serve this on the regular as part of your pasta rotation, but I think we should do more to celebrate on a weeknight: stop by the farmers market during your lunch break to choose your veg rather than picking it up in your weekly shop, plate it up properly for the two of you at the table with matching knives, forks and linen napkins, and serve your sparkling soft drink (I’m drinking more and more Appletiser now I’m trying to only drink during the week if I’m going out or entertaining, as it is a bit different to my all day sparkling water habit!) in wine glasses, over ice.
In 2018, I’m teaming up with Appletiser to bring you a brand new, delicious, healthy recipe (paired with Appletiser) each month to enjoy on a weeknight (though I’ve got some picnic and barbecue favourites coming up too, because how could you not?), each with at least a whole extra portion of fruit and veg packed in. So, if you don’t fancy a big bowl of green for dinner this week (though why would you not?), do check out my recipes for Spiced Aubergine with Barley, Yogurt & Pomegranate, and Pea & Mint Crusted Salmon with Rice and Kale.
Yes I am one of those people who tries to properly pair the wine with the meal (I’ve got a lovely Pouilly Fume in my wine rack I’m just saving for when I have the chance to make something special to perfectly pair with it) and as I’m trying to cut down on the amount I drink during the week, I’ve been coming up with some perfect pairings to serve with the various dishes that appear in my rotation when I’m not testing recipes for work. Appletiser is 100% apple juice with a little bit of sparkle, so it goes well with flavours like; almond, anise, bacon, beetroot, blackberry, black pudding, blueberry, butternut squash, cabbage, carrot, celery, cinnamon, clove, coriander seed, hard cheeses, soft cheeses, hazelnut, horseradish, liver, mango, nutmeg, orange, peanut, pear, pineapple, pork, rose, sage, shellfish, vanilla, walnut – thank you Flavour Thesaurus!) but we also eat with our eyes, so I always serve Appletiser an a non-alcoholic option with anything green. Doesn’t everything just look so bright and vibrant served together?
If you want to double this up so you have a few packed lunches to enjoy throughout the rest of the week, this is delicious cold. Also, this is about celebrating the best of new spring veggies, so don’t be absolutely married to the ones I have used below: mangetout will work just as well as the snap peas, and if you can’t get baby leeks, big, fat spring onions will do. I like early season asparagus as I find it is lighter and more tender, but fatter stalks will also work. Writing this recipe also reinforced in me the seasonal spirit of flexibility; I’d meant for this to be a wild garlic pesto, but I could not get any. If you can, leave out the mint and add some wild garlic in, bit by bit, to taste – but be careful, as it can get rather pungent!
- 140g (5 oz) Wholemeal Pasta Shapes
- Sea Salt
- 4 Baby Leeks
- 12 Spears Early Asparagus
- 2 Handfuls Sugar Snap Peas
- 2 Large Handfuls Tender Baby Spinach
- Small Handful Fresh Mint
- Zest of 1/2 Lemon
- 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
Set the pasta to boil, as per the packets instructions (I usually find it takes about 15-20 minutes) in a pan of salted water, until just tender. Meanwhile, prepare and blanch the veg. Top, tail and rinse the leeks, and cut them into generous centimetre rounds. Tail the asparagus spears and do likewise, and half or third the snap peas, depending on their size. You want everything to be about the same size. Put them in a heatproof bowl, salt well and pour over boiling water. Drain as well as you can after 3-4 minutes. The veg should be tender, but still crunchy.
To make the pesto, combine the spinach, mint, lemon zest, olive oil, parmesan and a pinch more salt in a blender (I used my NutriNinja) until smooth. You may need to stop it and stir everything with a spatula a couple of times to make sure you get all the bits! To assemble, drain the pasta well, and toss everything together so the pasta is well coated in the pesto. Serve with some extra parmesan grated on top and a nice cold glass of Appletiser.
A few more spring-suitable ideas for Meat Free Monday: Pasta with Courgette, Lemon & Chilli, a Roasted Spring Vegetable Chickpea Bowl, Wholemeal Spaghetti with Lemon & Avocado, Warm Roasted Vegetable Lentil Bowl with Herby Goats Yogurt, Penne with Walnut & Aubergine Pesto, Mexican Roasted Sweet Potato, Radish & Tomato Bowl, Roasted Tomato & Mushroom Pesto Rice, Creamy Mushroom Savoury Dutch Baby Pancake, Kale Pesto Gnocchi with Cherry Tomatoes, Stupidly Simple Lasagne.
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