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.
Tips for Pesto Pasta Success
- Reserve some of the the starchy cooking water to add back in to make everything more creamy.
- Dress the pasta with the pesto when the pasta is hot. That way the pasta will absorb the pesto flavors better.
- Add a splash of vinegar. Adding a splash or two of vinegar will not only brighten the flavors but help keep the avocados from turning brown too quickly.
Pesto Pasta With Spinach and Avocado
- 12 ounces of fusilli pasta
- 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
Cook the pasta:
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.
Add hot pasta to chopped fresh spinach:
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.
Stir in the pesto, add some pasta cooking water, vinegar, salt, and pepper:
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.
Add peas and avocado:
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.