A Better Pesto Pasta

When a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist like me makes a pesto pasta recipe, she thinks about "how can I make this even healthier?" Well the answer here is that I added in spinach, changed up the nuts and lowered the amount of oil to make it a bit more calorie friendly for women who are trying to prevent weight gain as they approach or are in the midst of menopause.

This Pesto Pasta recipe has lots of antioxidants from the spinach and the walnuts add some heart-healthy Omega-3 fats. I also substituted vegetable broth for some of the oil to reduce the calories, while maintaining all the great flavor of pesto.

If you have left-over sauce, spread it on bread (instead of mayonnaise) on your sandwich tomorrow or add it on top of a piece of toasted baguette for a tasty appetizer.

Jill’s Pesto Pasta


  • 1 lb. fusilli or penne pasta
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 ½ cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste


  • Place spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, cheese, salt and vegetable broth in a food processor Pulse until coarsely chopped; Add olive oil and lemon zest, then blend until smooth.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Meanwhile bring water to boiling and cook pasta until al dente.
  • Return pasta to a serving dish, add desired amount of pesto and stir until well combined.
  • Serve.