Truly a less than 30-minute meal - this green pea and spinach pasta will be on the table in about as long as it takes to boil the water and cook the noodles. Considering that the sauce is full of good for you veggies - this is one you will want to keep in your regular dinner rotations.
Dinner friends. Another it-will-be-done-in-less-than-30-minutes meal. Actually, this one is more like 20 minutes. All of these meals seem to be staring pasta lately. I happen to love pasta. I could eat it several times a week so I don't really mind. It's fast and easy to stock in the cupboard.
What I don't like about typical weeknight pasta is tomato sauce. Especially when it comes from a jar. Yes, absolutely. I'm guilty of stocking the pantry with jarred sauce and dry noodles too. Come to think of it, there is probably 3 jars of pasta sauce in my pantry as I type this. It is the obvious choice on busy nights. But the idea of pasta with a plain tomato sauce makes me want to order take out.
How to make Green Pea and Feta Pasta Sauce
This pasta requires only slightly more effort than opening a jar and warming it up. However, I expect that you have most of the ingredients on hand already. At least I do always do: a bag of frozen peas in the freezer, fresh feta and fresh spinach in the fridge.
If you don't have fresh greens just add another cup of peas. Although I prefer this version with spinach and peas, just peas is good too. I tend to always have fresh spinach in my fridge. It is a regular on my grocery list - it goes in my salads, my smoothies and we use it instead of lettuce on sandwiches and burgers. So, it's around.
You will need two pots. One filled with water for cooking the pasta - a short pasta - fusilli, penne or bow ties is best. And a medium-sized pot for making the sauce.
While the pasta water is coming to a boil bring frozen peas and the stock to a boil. I often use water and a stock cube. Once they are simmering and the peas are near done, it only takes a few minutes, add the spinach. Let the spinach wilt then remove from the heat and toss into a blender. Yes - liquid and all.
(pasta water is likely boiling by now so get the noodles into the pot)
To the blender add olive oil, juice of half a lemon, a generous pinch of salt and pepper and a scoop of pesto and whiz until smooth and creamy. It might seem a little loose at this point but it will thicken up just fine when the feta and pasta are added. Set aside until the pasta is done cooking.
Get into the habit of scooping out a half cup or so of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, the pasta is done. Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid - about a half cup. You won't use it all, but a little bit can help thicken the sauce.
Adding pasta cooking water while you toss your noodles with the sauce, helps create that silky smooth sauce you love because if full of starch from the pasta and it is also well seasoned. I always try to add just a tablespoon or two - at least - to any finished pasta dish as I toss it together. The sauce will loosen and also stick to the noodles better.
Drain the pasta in a colander.
I like to return the pasta to the hot pot at this point, pour over the sauce, most of the feta (save a bit for the topping) and toss. Here is where you might use the pasta water. Add just a splash and continue to toss until the sauce thickens up and the cheese gets a bit soft.
What if the pasta sauce does not thicken up?
Totally feel free here to return to the pot to the hot burner and toss over the heat for the bit if you don't see it coming together the way you expect it should. If gets too thick, another splash of pasta water will help out. Taste for seasonings and serve.
That's it. Serve with slices of lemon and the remaining feta to sprinkle on top.
PS the kids will love this. Granted they will have to be adventurous enough to dig into green things. Convince them. They will like it.
Green Pea & Feta Pasta
- 1-½ cups vegetable stock or water with a bouillon cube added and disolved
- 2-½ cups frozen green peas
- 2 cups fresh spinach loosely packed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 454 g dried fusilli pasta
- 1 cup of crumbled feta divided
- juice from half a lemon
- ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
- lemon wedges for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Season generously with salt. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot add peas, stock (or water and bouillon cube) and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Just as the peas come to a simmer add the spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts, another minute. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the pea and spinach mixture into the jar of a blender, it may be necessary to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Add the pesto, juice from half of the lemon, salt, pepper and olive oil. Vent the blender lid and cover with a kitchen towel to allow steam to escape. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.
- Return the drained pasta to the pasta cooking pot (it is now empty!), pour over sauce plus ¾ feta cheese and toss well. The sauce will begin to thicken. Add some pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, only if the sauce is too thick. Serve with the remaining feta cheese and lemon wedges.