As many of you know, Shaan baby started “school” last week and so I’ve been wrangling my brain to come up with easy to pack, compliant (nut free) recipes for lunch everyday and it has been no easy task! We’re so used to eating soupy saucy things at home so I’ve had to put on a bit of a creative hat to think of different meals to send him.
Today I’m sharing this nut free pesto pasta that has been a hit for us and I hope it will be a hit with your little ones as well. I try to squeeze in as many greens as possible into Shaan’s diet and of course all the healthy fats and this recipe is loaded with both since it has tons of spinach, extra virgin olive oil, and hemp seeds! It does make a lot of leftover pesto but you can eat it so many different ways!
How to make this vegan:
You can sub the cheese in this recipe for nutritional yeast which will still give you that “cheesy” flavor and also texture!
This recipe is a great way to use up greens in your fridge! This recipe works great with any sort of herbs like cilantro, scallions, parsley and greens like arugula! It’s a great way to use up what you have!
If you’re adding nuts you can use pine nuts, walnuts, or pistachios!
Ideas for leftover pesto:
Spread inside a grilled cheese
Spread a quesadilla
Tossed into scrambled eggs
Tossed into soup
Swirled into hummus or greek yogurt as a dip
I hope your littles ones love this (I also totally loved it with a bit of crushed red peppers added on top) and if they do, be sure to tag me on @thechutneylife so I can see your wonderful creations. You can also check out some of my other toddler favorites like Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa & Turmeric Ginger Pasta.
Toddler Friendly Nut Free Pesto Pasta
- 2 cups tightly packed spinach leaves
- 1 cup tuscan kale (hard middle stem removed and leaves cut small)
- 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 3 cups rotini pasta uncooked (measure the pasta uncooked )
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup walnuts are optional if you choose to add nuts
- Boil water for the pasta and cook it according to package directions. Remember to save 1 cup of the water before draining the pasta. Place the pasta back in the pot and set aside.
- In a food processsor combine all of the ingredients, except the pasta and pasta water. Pulse until completely smooth. You should have a thick but smooth sauce - add additional olive oil by the tbsp if necessary
- To the pasta, add about 1/2 cup of the pesto, and about 1/4 cup of pasta water. Mix well and add more pasta water as necessary to get a creamy consistency.
- Enjoy right away, or store refrigerated for a few days. Leftover pesto can be spread inside sandwiches, grilled cheese, quesadillas, stirred into soups, hummus, yogurt etc. It also is great to add into scrambled eggs and other pasta dishes! Additionally, you can freeze it to use later.