clean-eating: whole wheat penne with healthy spinach pesto

I'm sharing a quick, tasty, nutritious recipe with you today: whole wheat penne pasta with a ready-in-5-minutes spinach pesto. This is the type of meal I throw together when I'm having dinner alone or need a fast but filling lunch -- in other words, I probably wouldn't prepare it for Ryan, unless it was alongside a piece of chicken or steak. Or maybe if I tossed some shrimp in there as well. He'd eat it, don't get me wrong... it's just what I consider a "me meal." Simple, healthy, light.

I absolutely love pasta...I pretty much wish I could eat it every day. Pasta with pesto sauce is one of my faves, but it can be totally loaded with calories and fat. This version of pesto is light -- much less oil, no nuts, only a little cheese -- it isn't quite the same as the full-fat version, but it hits the spot and is virtually guilt-free. The primary ingredients are spinach, olive oil, and egg (which I added for a bit more protein but can certainly be left out if you're grossed out by the thought of a raw egg -- although I tell myself that mixing it with the steaming pasta kinda cooks it...... I'm still alive), and it's served over whole wheat penne pasta. Just a bit of parmesan to round it out. No nuts in this version, but the addition of pine nuts or almonds would definitely be delicious.

For the pesto, put 3 to 4 cups of baby spinach in your food processor and pulse until it's chopped fine. Then, add in an egg and pulse until combined.

Slowly pour in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Pour into a bowl and mix with about 1/4 cup (more or less to your taste) of parmesan cheese, a bit of crushed red pepper for some heat, garlic powder for flavor, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over prepared whole grain penne pasta. 

Whole Wheat Penne with Healthy Spinach Pesto
For 2 servings

-4 ounces whole wheat penne pasta, prepared according to package directions
-3-4 cups baby spinach
-1 egg *(optional)
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1/4 cup parmesan cheese (more or less to taste)
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (more or less to taste)
-1/8 tsp garlic powder (more or less to taste)
-Salt and pepper to taste

-Prepare pasta according to package directions
-Meanwhile, prepare pesto: In a food processor, grind 3-4 cups of spinach until fine. Add in 1 egg and pulse until combined. Slowly pour in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pour pesto into bowl. Mix with parmesan, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Serve over hot pasta. Top with additional parmesan if desired. 


  1. oooooooooh thanks - I wanted to make this since seeing your photo on IG! Shaun would like this because he's like the healthiest eater over. It'd be delish with your spiced chicken, too... mmm

  2. I love a great pesto! This looks so satisfying.

  3. Thank you, thank you! I have two boys with nut and egg allergies but I love pesto. Going to make this soon! Without the egg, of course.

  4. Actually, the egg should cook on the hot pasta. Pasta Carbonara recipes rely on that! :) Don't be scared.

  5. Just made this tonight, so good! It has a bit of a kick to it also. Thank you so much for this recipe!



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