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Spinach pesto pasta salad

4 servings

With a mild lemon flavor and accessible ingredients, this spinach pesto pasta is a great family dinner option. You can even make the pesto ahead of time and stash it in the fridge just before you’re ready to make dinner.


  • 4 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 ounces whole-grain pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 14.5 ounce can reduced-sodium cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced and halved
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Additional sunflower seeds to garnish (optional)


To make the spinach pesto, place the spinach, olive oil, lemon, Parmesan, sunflowers, and garlic into a blender. Blend well, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Season to taste with salt.

Toss the pesto with the pasta, beans, cucumber, and tomatoes. Top with additional seeds. 

To make the spinach pesto ahead of time, place into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer in a zip top storage bag (pressed flat with as much air removed as possible) for up to 3 months.


Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Photography by Bill Nellans

Food styling by Jennifer Nellans


  • 576 calories
  • 28g fat (5g saturated fat)
  • 7mg cholesterol
  • 219mg sodium
  • 67g carbohydrate
  • 6g sugars
  • 13g fiber
  • 19g protein