Pesto Spelt Pasta

I wanted to make a good vegan pesto pasta but I wanted to take things a little further. Pesto is a great meal but the high level of oil doesn’t make it the healthiest. So I set out to make a pesto-like meal with some added extras and replacements. Italians hate it when you fuck with their dishes, so apologies to Italy!

First up, I decided to use spelt pasta. I have trouble digesting too much wheat and spelt, although still wheat, seems to be much more digestible for me. If you are gluten free though, a good brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta is good here.

I reduced the amount of heart stopping oil that is normally in pesto and replaced it with cherry tomatoes. Trust me, this is a great addition and works well. Chilli and raw garlic give it some much needed heat. I also added some lemon juice in to finish it, which really balances out the flavour.

Finally to get even more nutrients, I add some fresh spinach and wanna know where the protein is? Bitch, Peas…..

Oh yes I did.

Here’s a tip, make some extra portions for the following days and reheat in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. Just add everything to a shallow pan, cover with foil and chuck it in an oven. Everything goes crispy and I personally think it is much better then the first time round….

Serves 4 big meals or 6 smaller ones (for you weaklings)

Pesto Pasta


  • 500g spelt pasta
  • 500g cherry tomatoes (reserve a few for serving)
  • 70g (1/2 cup) pine nuts, plus a handful extra for toasting
  • 1 large bunch of basil, reserve a few leaves to serve
  • 2 red chilli peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • salt and pepper

Pesto processor

Cook it:

  1. Boil the pasta as per the package instructions in a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the frozen peas in the final 2 minutes. Before you do though, stick a mug in the water and reserve a cup of the starchy water
  2. Heat a frying pan on a stove over medium heat
  3. Meanwhile, tear the basil leaves off and don’t worry if the stalks go in too, they taste good. Chuck them along with the pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, chillies, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor and mix until it looks like pesto. You want it to be a little chunky so don’t go too mad here. Also, season with salt and pepper and check you have the right balance.
  4. With about 4-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, toast the remaining pine nuts in the dry pan
  5. When ready, drain the pasta and peas and add back to the pan. Add the pesto and scrape the sides to make sure you get everything out and give it all a stir
  6. Add the spinach and a little of the reserved water, put the heat back on to high and keep stirring until the spinach wilts. Add as much water as you need to make it a good consistency. Don’t go too mad though, you don’t want a soup!
  7. Divide into bowls
  8. Chop up the remaining cherry tomatoes, tear the remaining basil and add and with the toasted pine nuts to each bowl

Recommended Tunes:

St Vincent - St Vincent
St Vincent “St Vincent”

I have been on a St Vincent obsession these last few weeks. I tragically missed her at a Festival here last year and it will go down as one of my big regrets in life.

A friend posted a live video of her on facebook and I watched it with my jaw on the ground. I was stunned. AMAZING guitar work, polished songs, art rock and “kooky” yet she remains cool and not annoying. But serouly, her guitar playing is exactly what we need in Alternative music. Not a bad looker either! Reminds me of me. Ahem….

Anyway, a very successful update of a classic period in time, St Vincent is much like this dish. Enjoy.

Listen – but do yourself a favour and buy it on vinyl!!

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