Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Avocado

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

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


  • 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


1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

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  • Penny

    Delicious! I have a lot of basil growing. Will use it up with this recipe. Yum!


  • Ashley

    This may be a stupid question….. are we not supposed to cook the peas first?!?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Ashley, good question! I pretty much always use frozen peas, which are already blanched before they are frozen, so you don’t need to cook them. If you are using fresh peas, you may want to blanch them in the pasta water before you make the pasta.

      • Ashley

        Oh ok great! I wasn’t sure and I made this for the first time tonight (I just microwaved them for about 2 mins just to soften a little).

        Let me first say I’m not typically a pesto or pea fan, I made this dinner mainly for my husband….

        This was INCREDIBLE!! Thank you for the recipe!

  • Dave DeCoursey

    I made this last night for a meatless monday dinner! I keep basil pesto in the freezer (no cheese) so the only thing I needed to buy was the avocado and some bread!


  • Stacy S

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


  • 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.

  • ppicardi

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


    • Rich

      I also used lemon juice vs vinegar as the acid. Much brighter flavor I think

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sandy S

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

  • 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.