Blog: Lean & Green Pesto Pasta

Lean & Green Pesto Pasta

Looking for a delicious way to sneak in some extra vegetables? Look no further than this Lean & Green Pesto Pasta recipe, perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the year! This vibrant dish combines the goodness of broccoli and spinach with the comforting satisfaction of whole wheat penne pasta. With a flavorful pesto sauce made from a medley of fresh herbs, almonds, and a hint of zesty lemon, this pasta is not only tasty but also packed with nutrients. Plus, by adding grilled chicken breast, you’re boosting the protein content for a well-rounded meal. So, let’s embrace the green and indulge in a bowl of this wholesome pasta that’s as good for your taste buds as it is for your body.


Print Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes            Cook Time: 15 minutes          Yield: 5 servings       


  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 8 oz. dry whole wheat penne pasta 
  • 2 cups (loosely packed) baby spinach leaves
  • 1⁄4 cup raw almonds-toast
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1⁄2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives
  • 1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce or any hot sauce
  • 4 tbsp. grated reduced-fat Parmesan cheese, divided 
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced


  1. Begin by bringing a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the broccoli for approximately 3-5 minutes until it turns bright green and the stems are easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Using a slotted spoon, remove the broccoli and place it in a food processor.
  2. In the same boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Before draining, reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, process the broccoli, spinach, almonds, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, basil, chives, Sriracha sauce, Parmesan, and olive oil in the food processor until a smooth paste forms. Add 2 tablespoons of pasta water if the pesto is a little too thick. 
  4. Toss the drained pasta with the prepared pesto. Incorporate 1-2 tablespoons of cooking water. Gently fold in the grilled and sliced chicken breast. 
  5. Divide the pasta among plates and sprinkle each serving with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Enjoy your delicious broccoli and spinach pesto pasta!

Tips and Tricks:

  • Don’t forget to reserve some pasta cooking water before draining. This starchy water can help create a smoother and more cohesive sauce.
  • If the pesto seems too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil to achieve the desired consistency. Adjust the thickness based on personal preference.
  • Pesto tends to darken over time, so it’s best to serve the pasta immediately after tossing it with the pesto. This ensures a vibrant and fresh appearance.

Nutrition Facts:

Lean & Green Pesto Pasta

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