Delicious and packed with nutrients, this spinach pesto pasta with bacon is the perfect dish for a family dinner. With all the vegetables, it’s basically a salad and pasta dish in one. Learn how to make this vegetable pasta recipe.
Did you know that the US is the second nation that consumes the most pasta — right under Italy, of course! Pasta is easy to make, feeds a whole family, and there are many fun pasta varieties to spice things up (literally).
Pesto pasta is one of our personal favorites, especially this tasty spinach pesto pasta with bacon (or other protein). Even my toddler devours this. Here’s how to make it!
Ingredients to make spinach pesto pasta with bacon
For the spinach basil pesto, you need:
- Lemon zest and juice
- Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes
To complete the pasta dish, you need:
- Pepper (learn how to slice peppers)
- And for plating: basil, pepper, parmesan cheese
How to make this vegetable packed pasta dish
Here’s an overview of the recipe. See the video and detailed instructions at the bottom of this post.
Step 1. Cook the bacon in the oven at 400 degrees F for ~10-15 minutes, flipping once around the 10 minute mark, until bacon is cooked to desired crispness. Dice bacon in large chunks and set aside.
Step 2. Boil pasta. Bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil on high heat. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.
Step 3. Saute peppers with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for ~10 minutes, until pepper is soft and the edges start to brown.
Step 4. Toast walnuts on the stove over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes until they are lightly browned and fragrant.
Step 5. Make the spinach pesto. Add fresh basil, spinach, toasted walnuts, 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup water to a food processor. Puree until smooth.
Step 6. Assemble pasta dish. In the large skillet, mix together bacon, pasta, peppers, and spinach pesto. Turn the heat to medium if needed to reheat the mix together, for just a couple of minutes. Serve with basil, a crack of fresh ground pepper, and parmesan cheese.
Want another veggie packed recipe? Ready in under an hour, this delicious and keto-friendly baked feta with peppers, onions, and spaghetti squash is a dish worth trying.
The benefits of spinach pesto pasta
First, everyone loves this recipe! Even our picky toddler loves it (and he’s a tough critic). It’s not only delicious but healthy and guilt-free (especially if you use whole grain or veggie pasta).
If you don’t eat enough veggies or if your child refuses to eat greens, then don’t feel bad. But there are ways to sneak them into your meals, especially if you’re eating pasta. If you have no luck serving a spinach salad on the side, mix the spinach into your recipe — which is what we did here! My toddler can’t get enough homemade pasta covered in spinach sauce. It’s a miracle.
While you can add veggies to any pasta dish, the spinach blends in well with the pesto. You just blend it with the other ingredients and your picky toddler or spinach-hating spouse, family member, or friend won’t even be able to taste it.
Check out this chicken piccata pasta for more weeknight meal inspiration!
Why this recipe is a great way to add veggies to your diet
This recipe is perfect for that reason. All of the other flavors in pesto dominate the taste of spinach, disguising the fact that it’s even there. This recipe can also be used for other leafy greens, such as kale.
Common Questions When Making Pesto
This recipe calls for homemade pesto. Yes — homemade. Don’t worry, this recipe for spinach basil pesto is easier to make than you think. But it’s normal to have a few questions.
How do you select the best spinach? Look for spinach that’s dark green in color and has a fresh aroma and crisp texture. Make sure you avoid spinach with spots, wilted leaves, a sour odor, and if the leaves are slimy.
How do you make pesto? Just put all of the ingredients in the blender or food processor and BOOM! Pesto is made.
Do you cook pesto? Pesto has the best flavor when it’s fresh. So that’s why I don’t recommend actually cooking it. Even heating it a little bit in the microwave can reduce the flavor. Instead, add pesto to hot food so it melts. You can also add some melted butter if needed to help spread around the pesto.
Why does my pesto taste bitter? Olive oil becomes emulsified in the blender, so a slight bitter taste is normal. If you don’t like the taste, add a pinch of salt or sugar to the mix.
Discover more recipes
Do you love this spinach and pesto pasta? Head over to the recipes section for more dinner inspiration! You can find me on Instagram @sipbitego to see my latest recipe guides on the Sip Bite Go channel.
The perfect condiment makes the meal
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a true believer in pairing the perfect condiment with a meal to make it feel “complete”. For real — I’ll order a dish at a restaurant just because I’m excited to try the sauce or dressing.
Here are some of my favorite kitchen supplies for making sauces on the fly:
- Shun chef’s knife
- Nice olive oil
- A finishing salt, like Jacobsen’s black garlic sea salt
- Bamboo cutting boards
- Pyrex glass mixing bowls with lids
- Aerogarden for having fresh herbs on hand
- Mini mason jars for storing dressings in the fridge
Spinach Pesto Pasta With Bacon Recipe | Sip Bite Go
For the pasta
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 3.5 tbsp olive oil divded
- 1/2 orange pepper medium, sliced
- 1 spring basil fresh
- fresh cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
For the spinach basil pesto
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 cup basil fresh
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- Cook the bacon. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Add strips of bacon to a parchment lined, rimmed sheet tray, and cook for ~10-15 minutes, flipping once around the 10 minute mark, until bacon is cooked to desired crispness. Remove bacon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Dice bacon in large chunks and set aside. While bacon cooks, make the other pasta add-ins.
- Boil pasta. Bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil on high heat. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Saute peppers. Add ½ tbsp of olive oil and orange pepper to a large skillet over medium heat. Stir regularly, caramelizing red pepper for ~10 minutes, until pepper is soft and edges start to brown. Turn off heat, and leave sauteed peppers in the pan for assembling the pasta dish later.
- Toast walnuts. Add walnuts to a small skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. No need to add oil or butter, just heat the walnuts as-is, stirring regularly for 3-5 minutes until they are lightly browned and fragrant.
- Make the spinach pesto. Add fresh basil, spinach, toasted walnuts, 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, and ¼ cup water to a food processor. Puree until smooth.
- Assemble pasta dish. In the large skillet, mix together bacon, pasta, peppers, and spinach pesto. Turn the heat to medium if needed to reheat the mix together, for just a couple of minutes. Serve with basil, a crack of fresh ground pepper, and parmesan cheese.