pea pesto pasta

pea pesto pasta with crunchy crumbs

Pea pesto pasta with crunchy crumbs recipe and cookalong video

When you get your head around making your own pesto you won’t look back. Not only is it a perfect way to max out on greens (think of a how much greenery you can get into a smoothie) it uses up random odds and ends of cheese, seeds, nuts and greens and seems to manage to get loads of greenery past even the most veg-averse person.

I made this recipe in a lockdown cookalong video so you can watch me make it all the way through before you start and feel confident that when you make it, you won’t miss a trick. You can make this recipe in the time it takes the pasta to boil once you’ve made it a couple of times. making it a perfect quick and healthy dinner.

How to substitute to make pea pesto pasta work for whoever you’re cooking for

If you are cooking for someone who doesn’t like peas, hide them by defrosting the peas and add them to the pesto mixture so they end up blended in with the pesto. You can substitute almost every element of this recipe so instead of…

  • Pasta and bread – Use brown rice penne and gluten-free bread in the pangrattato.
  • Peas – Use cooked broccoli or any frozen green beans
  • Basil – Use any mixture of parsley, spinach, lettuce or any other soft salad greens
  • Parmesan – Use mature Cheddar/vegetarian cheese/an anchovy/1 teaspoon nutritional yeast.
  • Nuts or seeds – these can be replaced with breadcrumbs or other types of nuts/seeds

Storing, reheating and using leftovers

I usually double the pesto recipe below. It is amazing on sandwiches, on soup, spread on chicken or fish before baking, or on baked potatoes. This pesto can be frozen or kept in the fridge for around 4 days. Be sure to keep it in a narrow glass jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to stop air getting to it – which will make it go brown.

Re-heat the pasta and pesto in the microwave. You may need a little extra water adding to the pasta when it is re-heated before sprinkling the leftover pangrattato on top.

Pea pesto pasta and crumbs ingredients

(serves 4) see substitutions above

  • 400g (1lb) dried pasta – any shape

Pea pesto (feel free to double this for an extra meal)

  • 250g (9 oz) frozen peas
  • 90g (3 oz) basil leaves and stalks – the stalks have tons of flavour
  • 60g (2 oz or half a cup) pumpkin or sunflower seeds or raw whole almonds
  • 85g (3 oz) roughly chopped Parmesan or mature Cheddar
  • Half a teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons your best extra virgin olive oil or any olive oil
  • zest and juice of half a lemon or half a teaspoon white wine vinegar


  • 2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled but squashed with a knife
  • 2 slices stale bread or 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs if you have some in your freezer
  • sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, red chilli flakes to taste
  • Optional – zest of a lemon


You can buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. I receive a small affiliate fee from Amazon if you buy via my link. The products don’t cost you any more. These small fees help me keep creating all the free content I share.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this pea pesto pasta and crumbs…

  • Knife and chopping board
  • Large saucepan
  • Colander or sieve
  • Frying pan
  • Tongs
  • Small jug or coffee cup
  • A piece of kitchen paper/kitchen roll or a damp cloth
  • A blender – you can use a food processor, mini chopper, Nutribullet, Vitamix or an immersion blender.
  • Silicone spatula

To make pea pesto pasta and crumbs

Watch the cookalong video here.

1. Grab your largest saucepan to cook your pasta in. A larger quantity of water gives the pasta more space to move around (to prevent sticking) and will return to a boil more quickly after the pasta is added. Boil the water for your pasta. A kettle is the fastest way to do this but if boiling in a pan, put the lid on to speed up the boiling time.

2. Start cooking your pasta. Put the pasta into the boiling water with a heaped teaspoon of fine grain sea salt. Don’t worry, most of the salt will be thrown away but adding this much means the pasta will suck in a little of it as it cooks. Give it a stir then leave it to simmer for as long as the packet says.

While the pasta cooks

3. Make breadcrumbs. Rip the bread into chunks and put the chunks in a blender or food processor. Blitz until they turn into rough crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can just rip the bread into tiny pieces.

4. Make the pangrattato. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat along with the unpeeled squashed garlic and a pinch of chilli flakes. Cook for a minute or two to flavour the oil. After a minute, add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Continue to cook on a medium-high heat for around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so until it smells toasty and garlicy and rustles dryly when you shake it. Take off the heat and add lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

5. Make the pesto. While the pangrattato cooks, place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor or Nutribullet and blitz until you get a rough paste. Scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula if need be and blitz again to ensure all is incorporated. It will look thicker and less oily than the bought stuff. Taste and adjust the seasoning (add more pepper or some lemon zest or juice or white wine vinegar if needed to balance things). You’re unlikely to need salt as the cheese is salty but taste and see what you think. Set aside.

6. Add the still frozen peas to the pan of pasta for the last minute of the pasta cooking time. When the pasta and peas are ready, scoop out a cup of the pasta cooking water in a jug or coffee cup and keep it.

7. Mix the pesto into the drained pasta and peas and stir well. It will be dry so gradually add some of the pasta cooking water until you get a silky sauce that clings to the pasta. Taste and add more cheese, salt, pepper or acidity (lemon or white wine vinegar) as needed.

8. Serve the pasta with the pangrattato sprinkled on top.

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