Easy Pea Pesto

This Easy Pea Pesto is simple and delicious — not to mention fast, budget-friendly, kid-friendly, and a breeze to freeze! Easily vegan and great over whole grain pasta for a no-fuss meal packed with healthy fats, plant-based protein, and fiber. Make a batch (or two!) and freeze for a quick and healthy meal in the future.

A bowl of spaghetti coated in green pea pesto with a fork on a white marble background

Husband unloading the car after my most recent trip to Costco: “Do we really need a 5-pound bag of frozen peas?”

Me: “Yes, we do. In fact, half of them will be used by tomorrow!” 

Husband: 😳 

And, friends, this Easy Pea Pesto is the reason why.

overhead of a bowl of pea pesto with a spoon on a white marble background

To all you parents trying to keep dinnertime as easy, affordable, and stress-free as possible these days, this recipe is for you. This simple pesto has been one of my busy weeknight go-tos for years now. In fact, of all my faithful favorites, this is probably the recipe I’ve made the most! 

Way back in the day before kids, I’d make a single batch, which was enough to feed the hubs and I for two nights and freeze for another meal. These days, I double (or triple!) the recipe, portion the pesto into wide-mouth mason jars, and pop 5-6 in the freezer at once. With two toddlers, efficiency in the kitchen has never been more crucial.

This Easy Pea Pesto is simple and delicious — not to mention fast, budget-friendly and kid-friendly! Put it over your favorite whole grain pasta or mix it into short grain brown rice for a no-fuss meal packed with healthy fats, plant-based protein, and fiber.

overhead of a bowl of spaghetti coated in green pea pesto with a fork on a white marble background

What is pea pesto?

Pea pesto is a sauce made from fresh or frozen peas, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and fresh herbs like basil or mint. It’s typically paired with pasta but is versatile enough to spread onto crostini, stir into risotto, or serve over chicken, shrimp, or fish.

How to Make Pea Pesto

To make pea pesto all you have to do is blitz a bag of defrosted frozen peas in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and some fresh leafy herbs. Mint and basil are my personal favorites, but cilantro or parsley also work well! Add a squeeze of lemon at the end for a little zing and voilà, delicious pea pesto!

How to Make Healthy Pea Pesto Pasta 

  • Add extra fiber with whole grain pasta. Whole grain pasta can provide nearly triple the fiber of traditional white pasta. The big benefit of this? You’re more likely to feel fuller on fewer carbs.
  • Get in some extra veggies. If you’ve got extra veggies in the fridge, roast or sautè them while the pasta cooks for a nutritional boost. It’s an easy and delicious way to get in an extra serving or two of veggies!
  • Up the protein. Peas are a great source of plant-based protein but adding 1 cup ricotta cheese to this dish will add another 5-7 grams of protein per serving.

Can you freeze pea pesto?

Yes, pea pesto freezes amazingly well. Freeze pea pesto in 1-cup portions, enough to coat a standard 16-ounce box of pasta.

Wide-mouth mason jars work really well, just leave a little space at the top since it will expand a little. Sandwich-sized Stasher bags are also great because they take up very little space and can be stacked side-by-side if frozen flat.

To defrost pea pesto, leave it in the refrigerator overnight or set it out on the counter for a few hours. Alternatively, you can thaw pesto in a bowl of lukewarm water — just be aware that glass mason jars may crack if the water is too warm.

overhead of a bowl of pea pesto with a spoon on a white marble background

Looking for more pasta-friendly sauces? Here are some of our favorites!

Print
Recipe

Easy Pea Pesto

This Easy Pea Pesto is simple and delicious — not to mention fast, budget-friendly, kid-friendly, and a breeze to freeze! Make a batch (or two!) and freeze for a quick and healthy meal in the future.

  • Prep Time:
    10 minutes
  • Total Time:
    10 minutes
  • Makes:
    2 cups pesto 1x
  • Prep Time:
    10 minutes
  • Total Time:
    10 minutes
  • Makes:
    2 cups pesto 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
    • ½ cup loosely packed mint or basil leaves (see notes)
    • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving if desired
    • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
    • 23 cloves garlic
    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
    • Fresh lemon juice, to taste

    Instructions

    1. Pulse the dry ingredients. In a food processor, combine peas, mint, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, salt, and garlic and pulse until all ingredients are very finely chopped.

    2. Add the oil. With the food processor on high speed, drizzle in the olive oil until pesto is smooth and creamy, adding more oil to reach desired consistency if needed. Remove the lid; season with additional salt and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon to taste. 

      To serve over pasta: Cook 16-ounces pasta to desired tenderness in generously salted water, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Combine the cooked pasta and about 1 cup of pesto to the pot. Stir to coat the pasta, adding reserved pasta water ¼ cup at a time to thin as needed. For extra veggies, add another 1 cup of defrosted peas to the pot. Serve immediately with shaved or grated Parmesan, torn mint and/or basil, flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  

    Notes

    FAVORITE EQUIPMENT

    RECIPE NOTES

    This recipe makes about 2 cups of pesto which is enough for 2 (16-ounce) packages of uncooked pasta. It’s great stirred into pasta and short grain rice, or spooned over chicken, shrimp, or fish.

    Freeze in ~1 cup portions and defrost as needed for a fast weeknight dinner. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours before using.

    INGREDIENT NOTES

    • Fresh herbs: This recipe works well with fresh mint and/or basil, but cilantro and parsley can also be substituted. Use whatever fresh leafy herbs you like and have on hand.
    • For vegan pesto: Substitute equal amounts of nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese.

    LITTLE HELPERS

    Involving little ones can decrease picky eating and increase appetite and willingness to try new foods. Here are a few ways they can help: 

    • Toddlers: Measure the peas, Parmesan, pine nuts and salt; peel the garlic, pick mint or basil leaves off the stems, help operating and adding oil to food processor (closely supervised, of course!)
    • Little & Big Kids: All of the above plus help grating the cheese

    Nutrition

    • Serving Size: 1/4 cup pesto
    • Calories: 240
    • Sugar: 2 g
    • Sodium: 275 mg
    • Fat: 21 g
    • Saturated Fat: 4 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 17 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 7 g
    • Fiber: 2 g
    • Protein: 6 g
    • Cholesterol: 8 mg

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    If you make this Pea Pesto, please leave a comment and give this recipe a rating! Ratings and comments help other busy parents discover this recipe. Plus, I love to hear from you and always do my best to respond to every comment.

    Oh and if you do make this recipe, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram so I can see!

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    Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

    I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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