Pasta with peas and pesto is a light summer pasta recipe with a homemade pesto sauce, crunchy pine nuts, and green peas. It’s simple and easy the way summer should be.
My favorite things to make during the summer are dishes you can serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, mainly because they’re usually easy but also because they lessen the stress of getting dinner on the table at an exact specific time.
Like this simple pasta with peas: once you assemble it, it’s not going to go weird on you if you let it sit around for a bit – it’s as delicious at room temperature as it is warm, and any leftovers chilled in the fridge will be just as good, too. It’s like my spinach steak pasta in that way – an easy, low-maintenance, summertime meal.
I guess it’s a pasta salad, but I don’t think of it exclusively as a side dish, although it’s that, too. It’s a great base recipe to enjoy just as a light meal, or you can add things to it like shrimp, chicken, or steak. The pesto sauce goes with all the things.
So, once you’ve made it feel free to indulge in all the summertime distractions before you sit down and actually eat – soak in the last few minutes on the patio sipping a cold drink, go a few more rounds of fetch with the dog, or give those flowers a quick hit with the hose. This pesto pasta with peas will wait for you and be as delicious as when you first made it.
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- Pine nuts – If you have a couple extra minutes, toast the pine nuts. I brings out their natural oils and enhances the flavor. I toast mine in a dry skillet on the stove – it doesn’t take long, just warm them up, shake the pan a few times, and once they’re fragrant they’re done.
- Garlic cloves – No chopping required here since you’ll blend them in the food processor.
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh basil leaves
- Shredded Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- Rotini pasta – Or any short pasta like penne, orecchiette, cavatappi, or farfalle.
- Frozen peas
- Ground black pepper
Optional: If you like some heat, add a few pinches of red pepper flakes when you make the pesto.
How to Make Pasta with Peas
Pesto: Blend most of the pine nuts (reserve some for garnish) with the garlic, lemon, basil, and cheese until it’s finely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil while the processor is running and blend until smooth.
Pasta and Peas: Boil the pasta until it’s al dente in a large pot following the package instructions. In the last minute of cooking time add the frozen peas to the boiling water. Cook them with the pasta for a minute or so and then scoop up some of the pasta water and set it aside before you drain the pasta and peas.
Sauce: Place the pesto and hot pasta water in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the pasta and peas and toss to coat them in the sauce. If it’s not saucy enough for you, add a little more pasta cooking water to thin the pesto sauce.
Garnish: Top the pasta dish with the rest of the pine nuts, black pepper, and some chopped basil.
Pine nuts are so good but pricey so feel free to use the same amount of almonds or walnuts in this recipe.
If you want to add a protein, I think some diced grilled chicken or shredded chicken would be great. Or toss in some grilled shrimp or toss it with some sliced grilled steak. Crispy crumbled bacon would have a home in this dish, too.
If you want it even speedier, use a good-quality store bought pesto sauce – one from the refrigerated section not a shelf stable one. It will cut 10 minutes off the prep time making this an easy 15ish minutes recipe.
This pasta with peas will keep well in the refrigerator for several days. I can eat it cold straight from the container but it’s also good warmed up. If you notice it’s a little dry, toss it with some more pesto or a little olive oil to loosen it up.
I hope you enjoy this easy summer recipe!
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Pasta with peas is an easy pasta recipe with homemade pesto, crunchy pine nuts, and green peas. Serve it as a side dish or main dish for an easy dinner.
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, divided (see note)
- 2 peeled garlic cloves
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound rotini pasta
- 2 cups frozen peas
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Place 1/4 of the pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, basil, and Parmesan in a food processor
- Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
- With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Once the pesto is smooth season give it a taste and add salt if needed.
- Boil the pasta following the package instructions. In the last minute of the cooking time, add the frozen peas.
- Remove 1 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta and peas.
- Whisk the pesto sauce and 1/4 cup of pasta water in a large bowl. Add the pasta and peas and toss to combine. If the pasta is dry, add another 1/4 cup of pasta water.
- Garnish the pasta with the rest of the pines and freshly ground black pepper.
Something about toasting pine nuts.
This pasta can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Side Dishes
- Method: Blend
- Cuisine: American
- Calories: 395
- Sugar: 3.3g
- Sodium: 131.1mg
- Fat: 17.1g
- Saturated Fat: 3.2g
- Unsaturated Fat: 12.9g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 49.4g
- Fiber: 4.4g
- Protein: 12.3g
- Cholesterol: 3.6mg
Keywords: pesto pasta recipe, pesto pea pasta
The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.