Pea and Parsley Pesto Pasta

That’s a fun alliteration! I’m not trying to be funny, but this is the best way to describe this pasta dish. My Italian mamma used to make us what we called green spaghetti when were kids. She still makes it for us. The main ingredients in her green spaghetti are organic Italian parsley and garlic, a lot of garlic. I have tempered the garlic in this recipe, but feel free to add more back in if you love garlic too.

Parsley and garlic go so well together. There are so many classic recipes that feature these two ingredients, like garlic bread and garlic/butter escargots. It’s a magical combination. I would highly recommend using the freshest parsley and garlic you can find. It will dramatically improve the flavor of this dish. You can find some amazing fresh ingredients at your local farmers market.

I adapted my mom’s recipe a little. I added some peas for a little extra protein. Then I decided I should add mint because mint pairs so well with peas and I happen to have some growing outside right now. To keep things tasting and looking bright, I added some fresh lemon juice too. Then I added olive oil until it tasted just right. Everything goes into the food processor and gets blitzed up. It’s super easy. By the way, my mom doesn’t write down or follow recipes, but my sister and I have been paying close attention, thankfully.

This recipe happens to be vegan and it’s delicious without the Parmesan cheese, but for the cheese lovers out there, I have included a variation with cheese. Either way, I think you’re going to love it.

I went with small pasta shells, but orecchiette would work well with the pesto too because the sauce gets stuck inside. You could also use rotini or spaghetti. It’s up to you.

This pesto would also be great on roasted yams, potatoes and chicken, or even in a tomato and bocconcini salad or sandwich. In fact, you could add blistered tomatoes and pearl bocconcini to this pasta dish too. The options are endless.


Parsley and Pea Pesto Pasta
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins

The perfect parsley and pea pesto pasta.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: parsley pea pesto, parsley pesto, pesto, pesto pasta, vegan pesto
Servings: 4
  • 2 cups organic parsley
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen peas (defrosted), divided (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced (or 4 or 5)
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, deseeded
  • 1/2 green onion, chopped
  • 5 mint leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Maldon salt or sea salt (see note)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, the juice (2 tsp zest, optional)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more, as per your taste)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 454 grams small pasta shells or orecchiette (reserve 1/2 cup pasta water)
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor. (Reserve 1/4 cup of the peas to garnish the pasta). Blend until smooth. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with 2 tsp of salt. Cook the pasta as per the package instructions, minus two minutes. (Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water just in case you need to loosen your pesto sauce).

  3. Put the pesto in large saucepan or frying pan. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked pasta to the pan. Add the 1/4 cup peas. Stir for two minutes and serve. 

Recipe Notes
  • If you’re not adding Parmesan cheese, you will likely need more than 1/2 tsp salt. I used 1 tsp salt in this recipe, but the quantity will depend on your ingredients. Salt to taste.
  • If the pesto thickens up too much, you can loosen it up with a little warm pasta water. (You may not need to add any more pasta water because some water tends to get caught in the pasta shells).

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