Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Avocado

The great thing about making a big batch of pesto is that you can easily dip into it to dress up a meal. Here we are elevating a simple side of pasta and pesto with the additions of chopped baby spinach, peas, and avocado. 

I don’t usually think of avocado when I think of pasta, but it works! Avocados are rich, creamy, and good for you. They take the place that a cheese would have in a dish like this.

The important things to remember when making this recipe are to reserve some of the starchy cooking water to add back in to make everything more creamy, and to dress the pasta with the pesto when the pasta is hot. That way it will absorb the pesto flavors better.

Also a cool little trick for brightening up the flavor of any pasta salad or pasta dish like this? A splash or two of vinegar. It not only brightens the flavors but helps keep the avocados from turning brown too quickly.

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Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Avocado Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 4.

Prep the spinach and the avocado while the pasta water is coming to a boil.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces of fusilli pasta
  • Salt
  • 2 cups packed (about 2 1/2 ounces) chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp prepared basil pesto
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 cup peas (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1 whole ripe (but not overly ripe) avocado, peeled and chopped

Method

1 Bring a large pot of salted water (3 quarts water, a tablespoon of salt) to a rolling boil. Add the dry pasta to the boiling water, stirring occasionally  to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook in rapidly boiling water until al dente, cooked through, but still a bit firm to the bite. The amount of time will depend on your package of pasta, anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes.

2 Place the chopped spinach at the bottom of a large bowl. When the pasta is done, scoop out about a half cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and put the hot drained pasta on top of the chopped spinach in the bowl. Toss to mix. The heat of the pasta will help wilt the spinach leaves.

3 Stir in the pesto, so that the pasta is well coated. Add in a little of the pasta cooking water you set aside to loosen the pasta a bit. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of the red wine vinegar, a half teaspoon of salt, and a half teaspoon of black pepper.

4 Stir in the peas, and gently fold in the chopped avocado. Taste and add more salt, vinegar, and or pepper if needed.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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12 Comments

  1. Baby June

    That looks awesome! I love pesto, this variation sounds great :)

  2. Renee

    This sounds and looks wonderful! I love all the green ingredients against the pasta. This will be a great side dish with some nice steak.

  3. Kate @ Babaganosh.org

    What a great idea to reserve some of the starchy water! I love the color scheme of this pasta dish, simple yet beautiful!

  4. Sandy S

    A quiet little pasta salad with a true touch of magic! Thank you Elise! We love it!

  5. Angie | Big Bear's Wife

    Love the tip about the vinegar! I did not know that!

  6. Liz

    Thank you for the nice recipe.

  7. Tina

    I tried a riff on this with olives, tomatoes, and mozzarella in place of the peas and avocado. Delicious! Thanks for the great idea.

  8. Maureen Irvine

    This is such a simple, summery dish with endless possibilities. It would be great as a main dish or side. Here in Northern Ireland we cannot grow Basil in enough quantities to make fresh pesto but I would use ready made instead.
    Maureen

  9. ppicardi

    I added lemon juice, dried parsley and two garlic cloves to kick the flavor up . Oh yeah, it’s good!

  10. Candice

    LOVE pesto, spinach, avocado and pasta!!! This will definitely be added to this weeks menu!

  11. Walter Underwood

    This was great, though it took a lot of stirring to distribute the pesto evenly, and I put it in the microwave twice to wilt the spinach to my taste.

    Still, a nice dish for my wife’s birthday. We’ll make this again.

  12. Stacy S

    I made this dish and had some leftovers, very good. Nice, light, easy to make! We added some shredded romano cheese, yummy!

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