When you add spinach, walnut, and a few hemp seeds to your pesto, the protein content soars. Use a wholegrain or bean pasta and add some white beans, and you have a delicious and satisfying meal rich in plant protein. Leftover pesto can be stored in a small tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Pasta and White Beans with Spinach-Walnut Pesto [Vegan]

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  • 3 cups lightly packed (90 g) baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup (24 g) fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 12 ounces (340 g) pasta
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (33 g) toasted walnut pieces
  • 3 tablespoons (12 g) nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) hulled hemp seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups (266 g) cooked cannellini beans or other white beans, or 1 (15-ounce [425 g]) can, rinsed and drained


  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the spinach and basil, pushing down to immerse them in the water, and blanch for about 1 minute, until just wilted. Drain the greens and transfer them to a bowl filled with ice water to cool and arrest the color. Drain the greens from the ice water and squeeze them to remove as much water as possible. Set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente, according to the package directions.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, combine the garlic, toasted walnut pieces, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, salt, and pepper in a food processor, and process until finely minced. Add the reserved spinach and basil and the olive oil (if using), and process to a paste. Add the lemon juice. Transfer 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the hot pasta cooking water or more to the food. processor and blend to achieve a desired consistency.
  4. Put the beans in a colander in the sink. Drain, the pasta over the beans. Return the drained pasta and beans to the pot. Spoon on as much of the pesto as desired and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve hot.


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