This spinach cashew pesto is perfect for dinner on a weeknight. It’s quick to make and uses ingredients you likely already have on hand (like that wilted box of spinach you’re not sure what to do with).
Why you’ll love this spinach cashew pesto recipe
- Quick & Easy: this pesto comes together in 20 minutes or less. The thing that takes the longest is soaking your cashews. One tip to save you time is to cook your pasta in the same water that you blanch your spinach.
- Balanced: you’re getting protein, carbs and veggies from this meal, so it’s well balanced. The cashews and green peas are giving protein. If you want some additional protein, you can use a lentil or chickpea pasta. The spinach and green peas are veggies. If you want more veggies, pair this with a salad. And the pasta is providing some healthy carbs.
What you’ll need to make this recipe
You’ll need the following to make this recipe:
- Spinach: traditional pesto uses basil, but this recipe uses fresh spinach instead. Spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin A, vitamin K and iron.
- Cashews: they add creaminess to this pesto. Be sure to soak them for at least 30 minutes in cold water, or 15-20 minutes in hot water. They blend better if they’re soaked longer.
- Green peas: this is a fun and nutritious addition to this recipe. Green peas add more colour and nutrition. 1 cup of green peas provides 8g of protein, as well as fibre and other micronutrients.
- Nutritional yeast: this adds extra flavour and nutrients. In traditional pesto, parmesan cheese is used, so nutritional yeast gives a somewhat similar cheesy flavour profile. It also adds some protein and B vitamins (as long as the brand you use is fortified).
Are salted cashews healthy?
Cashews are a good source of protein (6g protein per 1/4 cup). Salted ones provide additional sodium to your diet. For this recipe, unsalted is preferred. You will be using some salted pasta water, and adding some additional salt to taste, so using salted cashews will make the final product too salty.
Is this vegan spinach cashew pesto?
Yes, this recipe is vegan. Traditional pesto is not vegan, since it uses parmesan cheese. But this recipe uses nutritional cheese to give the cheesy flavour.
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Spinach Cashew Pesto
- Large pot
- frying pan
- ½ cup cashews, raw, unsalted
- 2 cups spinach, fresh
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup green peas, frozen
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup pasta water
- Add cashews to a small bowl, cover with water and let for for at least one hour. If you don't have enough time, you can cover in boiling water for 10-20 minutes.
- Bring large pot of water to a boil. Blanch spinach for approximately 30 seconds, or until it's bright green.
- Remove all spinach with a slotted spoon (don't drain the water, you're going to use it to cook your pasta). Run under cold water and squeeze to remove any excess water. Add to blender.
- Add oil to a hot frying pan. Cook garlic (no need to mince, add the whole clove), peas and chili flakes for 3-5 minutes or until quite fragrant. Transfer to the blender.
- Add nutritional yeast to the blender and blend until smooth. It will be very thick but it will thin out when we add the pasta water. If it's too think to even blend, you can add a splash of plant-milk.
- Return the pesto to the frying pan and set low to keep warm.
- Return your spinachy water to a boil. Make sure to salt it.
- Cook your deserved amount of pasta according to directions. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before straining your pasta.
- Add 1/4 cup pasta water to the pesto and stir to combine. Add more if you want it thinner.
- Add strained pasta to the pesto and toss until pasta is well coated.
- Transfer to bowls and garnish with more chili flakes (optional) and parmesan cheese (or other cheese of choice).
If you make this spinach cashew pesto pasta, take a picture and tag me on Instagram @harvestablenutrition. I always love to see your creations!