May 9, 2014

Pasta Friday: Green Pasta Primavera with Pesto

Green Pasta Primavera 2


More often than not, Saturday mornings are started with my longest run of the week. When I’m in full training mode this is usually 8+ miles and so I always try to make Friday nights pasta dinner nights. Especially as I get closer to a race, pasta dinners the night before my long runs become a habit. Occasionally I switch it up with fish and a carb but I find that nothing really fuels me the same as a good pasta meal. Now, whether this is actually true physiologically, I have no idea what’s going on inside my body but mentally I always feel an extra boost the night after a pasta dinner. It might have something to do with my never ending obsession with carbs but lucky for me the experts say carbs should be a runners best friend. Done!¬†This particular pasta dish is a play on pasta primavera combined with one of my favorites, pesto! It’s also meatless but the addition of lentils makes up for that and is a great source of protein! Also, we made the switch to whole grain pasta about two years ago and haven’t looked back. The texture and taste were weird at first but now regular pasta just doesn’t seem hardy enough and tastes bland. Completely up to you and your taste preferences though!

Here’s what you need:


(Adapted from Oh She Glows. Makes 3 dinner portions or 2 dinner portions and 2 lunch portions.)

  • 2 cups uncooked whole wheat orecchiette
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small leek or 1/2 large leek
  • 1/2 large bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (trim ends)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas (or fresh if you can find them)
  • 6 sun dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup uncooked green lentils
  • fresh parmesan for topping
  • fresh basil for topping

Start by boiling the lentils. Fill a small saucepan with water, add the lentils and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer and let the lentils cook for 20-30 minutes. They should soften but not be cooked so much that they fall apart. You can actually switch out the green lentils for whatever is your favorite but I wouldn’t recommend red lentils because they will definitely fall apart on you. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them and put them to the side.

lentils cooking

While the lentils boil, prepare the vegetables and bring a larger pot of water to boil (this is for your pasta). Chop up the leek, garlic, asparagus and sun dried tomatoes. In a large sauté pan, heat up the olive oil. Add in the leeks and garlic and let cook for about 5 minutes or until the leeks begin to soften.

leek and garlic

(Once your larger pot of water comes to a boil, add in the pasta and cook according to the directions. The orecchiette takes about 8-10 minutes until al dente.) To the veggie pan, add in the sun dried tomatoes, peas and asparagus and salt and pepper to taste. Give everything a good stir and let cook for another 3-5 minutes. You want to let the asparagus cook to the point where the pieces no longer have a tough bite but they are still crisp and not mushy (i.e. overcooked with no more nutrients).

vegetables sauteed

Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and return it to the pot. Stir in the pesto. I happened to have leftover pesto from when Jor made pizza the other day so it was handy. However, you can find recipes for a few different pestos that I’ve made here and here. Both will taste great with this dish!

Pasta with pesto

Pour in the vegetable mixture and lentils and give it one last stir.

Pasta and veggie combo

Top each portion with fresh parmesan cheese and fresh basil and your carb loading meal is ready!

Green Pasta Primavera

I feel like pastas are almost as easy and versatile as soups! You can throw practically any combination of things together in almost one pot and you end up with a hearty, nutritious meal in under 30 minutes! That’s Rachel Ray style for you! Feel free to switch up the vegetables for green beans or edamame or get rid of the lentils completely and add in an animal protein. You could even swap out the green pesto for this tomato almond pesto that couldn’t be easier to make is one of my favorites! The options are endless! No matter, this dish is sure to give you the energy you need for that long Saturday morning run or to just get through a fun packed Saturday! For now, that’s green pasta primavera…in the shell of a nut!


Leave a comment