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green tea pesto pasta

by Jackie Newgent  |  May 6, 2012  |  4 Comments

green tea pesto pasta

Makes 4 servings: 1 1/4 cups each

One of my guilty pleasures is pesto sauce. It’s a bit indulgent so I tend not to eat it as much as I’d like to. How about you? Well, to all of you pesto lovers out there, today’s your lucky day. I’ve developed a creamy, calorie-friendlier version of the sauce that will be a delight to your palate. It’s actually vegan, too. The coolest part … there’s green tea in it. Here, it’s tossed with pasta to create an entrée full of flavorful goodness—and greenness!

Calories Saved: 120

1/3 cup unsweetened freshly-brewed green tea, warm or chilled, or to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts, pan-toasted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 large cloves garlic
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup packed (3/4 ounce) fresh basil leaves + sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup fresh or frozen baby sweet peas
2/3 cup no-salt-added canned or cooked garbanzo beans
10 ounces pasta of choice, such as whole grain penne rigate
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

  1. Add the tea, pine nuts, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, hot pepper flakes, and basil leaves to a blender and puree into a smooth sauce. Add the peas and beans and puree until creamy. Adjust seasoning.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan.
  3. Add the creamy pesto and cook while stirring over low heat until fully heated, about 2 minutes. Add additional tea if necessary for desired consistency. Adjust seasoning.
  4. Transfer to a large serving bowl or individual bowls. Sprinkle with lemon zest (if using), garnish with the basil sprigs, and serve.

Per serving: 390 calories, 11g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 450mg sodium, 63g total carbohydrate, 8g dietary fiber, 3g sugars, 14g protein

The “Before” Recipe

pesto pasta

Makes 4 servings

10 ounces penne rigate pasta
3/4 cup packaged basil pesto
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan.
  2. Add the pesto and cook while stirring over low heat until fully heated, about 3 minutes. Add half of the cheese and toss.
  3. Transfer to a large serving bowl or individual bowls, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, and serve.

Per serving: 510 calories, 23g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 490mg sodium, 56g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 3g sugars, 19g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • When enjoying pesto, pair it with whole grain rather than white pasta; it’s an excellent duo since the whole grain version is nuttier
  • For creaminess, consider pureeing beans, like garbanzo beans, into your sauce
  • Stretch a rich sauce by blending in a flavorful veggie of the same color family, like peas in pesto
  • Need to thin a sauce? Don’t water it down; use a flavorful liquid, like unsweetened green tea
  • If garlic is in the ingredient list, go for an extra clove or two if you dare
  • Consider sprinkling lemon zest onto a dish for extra zip, kind of like how you might use Parmesan or Romano cheese


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