Healthy Basil pesto pasta

Never being one to pass up on an opportunity to work with innovative food creatives, I’m delighted to share my Healthy basil pesto pasta recipe with you, in partnership  with Faithful to Nature . As South Africa’s largest online organic shop, FTN’s extensive range of natural and organic products make eating healthy a breeze. With over 11 000 products to choose from, locating your favourite products just got a whole lot simpler.

Healthy Basil Pesto Pasta

Together with 11 other awesome local bloggers, our #faithfulfood challenge was to create a springtime family-friendly meal that would get a thumbs up for super-healthy and delicious. Scanning the brief, words like easy cooking methods, innovative, vegetarian and seasonal pointed me directly to this menu. The ingredients are readily available and don’t require an expert forager to source. With this in mind, my main objective was to create recipes that are simple, doable and bursting with bright summery flavours.

Of all the food related work I do, my cooking classes are possibly the most rewarding. I love the interaction that happens when food is shared around the table. Apparently, some women find mowing the lawn more appealing than getting behind the stove. Lack of inspiration and time constraints are issues that always seem to pop up in conversation. Children are my other favourite people to talk to about food. Never subtle and always honest. Best food? Yip, it’s pasta! No complicated ragu-filled ravioli with burnt butter sage sauce here. Just straight up Italian style, like the basil pesto pasta we’re having tonight.

Healthy Basil Pesto Pasta
How to include more vegetables into your Healthy Basil Pesto Pasta

To keep it light and seasonal, we’re adding fresh garden peas, courgette spaghetti and roast cherry tomatoes. This is my go to candied tomato recipe, but fresh tomatoes will also do. This pasta dish lends itself to sneaking in loads of ‘invisible’ veggies that’ll see even fussy eaters lining up for seconds. Together with the greenest pesto, it’s a full 5 of our 5-a-day count.  To finish, we’re making a dried olive and parmesan nut granola. If you’ve never tried savoury granola, it’s totally addictive! Crunchy, salty and so good scattered over your favourite summer salad bowl. For the pasta, I’m using spelt spaghetti from my FTN pantry basket. You can read more about this ancient grain in this spelt hamburger bun post.

The secret to a great pesto pasta is obviously the pesto. This recipe is easy enough for kids to make and loaded with greens – baby spinach, rocket and heaps of basil. I’m mixing it up with pine nuts, walnuts and pumpkin seeds for maxed-out flavour and nutrient-dense value. Cooking from scratch with unrefined foods that are as close to nature as was originally intended, lessens the toxicity in our bodies and puts us on the path to good health. I make a huge batch of this super-green pesto and store it in the fridge for the best rye bread mozzarella cheese toasties or to rustle up a quick after school pasta lunch. In my kitchen a good recipe is one that’s versatile and can be incorporated into a host of other dishes, as is the Italian way.


Healthy Basil Pesto Pasta
Serves 6
  • 80g organic baby spinach
  • 80g organic basil leaves
  • 40g organic rocket
  • 1 garlic clove
  • zest of half an organic lemon, plus juice of half
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) cup Komati Pinenuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup Health Connection Pumpkin Seeds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons By Nature Raw Walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 120ml Prince Albert Extra Virgin olive Oil, plus extra to finish
  • Oryx Desert Salt
  • freshly cracked Good Life Organic Black Pepper
  • 400g Naturata Spelt Spaghetti
  • 3 – 4 (350g) organic courgettes, spiral or grated
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, fresh or oven roasted
  • 1 cup green peas
  • freshly grated parmesan, to serve
Savoury granola
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) Prince Albert Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) Health Connection Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Komati Pine Nuts
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) By Nature Raw Walnut Pieces
  • 2 tablespoons By Nature Dried Olives, pulsed in a processor until fine crumbs
  • Oryx Desert Salt
  • Good Life Organic Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  1. Starting with the pesto, place the spinach, basil, rocket and garlic in a large food processor. Whizz together until fine. You can do this in batches if necessary. Add the lemon zest, juice and all the nuts. Blitz briefly.
  2. Add the parmesan and pulse to combine. Pour in the Extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Give the pesto a final brief pulse to incorporate the oil. Store in a sterilised jar and keep refrigerated.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Add the peas and courgetti to the pasta and cook for a 1 minute. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water before draining the pasta.
  4. Return the pasta and vegetables to the pot, toss through 3/4 cup of pesto and 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to loosen the sauce.
  5. Top with the tomatoes and serve with savoury granola and a drizzle of Extra virgin olive oil.
  6. To make the granola, heat the olive oil in pan and toast the seeds until golden. Mix through the dried olive crumbs. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
  7. When the granola is cool, add the parmesan and combine.


More recipes that call for Basil Pesto:

Simple Pesto Pasta

Quick pesto cream chicken casserole

Orecchiette basil pesto pasta with rocket and walnuts

17 Comments. Leave new

  • Di, this dish looks absolutely amazing!

  • Sho, this is axactly the stuff that I love to eat! And your pictures are exquisite.

  • Thank you Tandy. We’re massive pesto fans and if it can hide some extra greens, so much the better!

  • So kind of you Ilze. My girls just love pesto pasta so they weren’t complaining helping out in the ‘test kitchen’.

  • Absolutely stunning!! My kind of meal and so beautifully photographed – love this.

  • Dianne Bibby
    6 October 2016 3:36 pm

    With all the incredible FTN recipes, it’s going to be difficult to decide which to make first.

  • This was amazing! Thanks for the recipe Di. Quick and easy, Added some tuna to the leftovers the next day for lunch and it was still good even though it was cold.

  • Fortunately there’s always left over potential with pasta. Love the tuna idea. My girls added chicken, feta and more pine nuts!

  • How many chocolate pots does the recipe make and what size containers did you use?

  • Hi Lindy. This dessert is quite rich so I like to serve smallish pots. The quantity is enough for four. I use espresso cups or shot glasses – about 50ml portions.

  • Marie-Anne Duarte
    29 November 2017 4:26 pm

    Thank you for this delicious Pesto Pasta Sauce recipe Di. You saved my bacon last night when I forgot to take meat out of the freezer for dinner. This is truly the ULTIMATE PESTO PASTA SAUCE!!! Dinner was ready in no time and so totally scrumptious.

  • This pesto recipe is on constant repeat in our kitchen. It’s just the handiest quick fix to have on hand. I think we could all do with more last minute meal solutions like this!

  • What is a Nakd Cocoa Delight Bar? What the ingredients? ( maybe I can replace with something similar)
    I’m not familiar with this in Australia🤔

  • Hi Chris. A Nakd cocoa bar is a delicious chocolatey date treat bar made here in South Africa. You could swap it for any other healthy treat bar. Failing that, a handful of dark chocolate will do the job too. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy!

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