Quinoa Penne & Herby Pesto

Recipes / Little Meals

This is one of those totally un-frog-ettable meals! (I’m not apologising for that one – the plate was too cute to not include in the photo!) Anything involving pasta has always been a favourite with our littles ones but this lip-smackingly good herby pesto has taken it to a whole new chart-topping bestselling level!


So we’ve established that it’s tasty but did we mention that it’s super quick to make? Only as long as it takes to boil some pasta in fact. And even better, it’s packed full of good stuff to fill little bellies with nutrients. Nutritional yeast, a deactivated strain of yeast, has a complete protein profile, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids that humans require from food.




130 g (1 cup) cashews*
30 g (1 cup) coriander
30 g (1 cup) baby spinach leaves
10 g (1/8 cup) nutritional yeast**
2 garlic cloves
juice and zest of one half lemon
125 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil


250 g (2 1/2 cups) pasta***
(we used quinoa, kale, beetroot & rice pasta)
4 - 5 broccoli florets, steamed
100 g (1/2 cup) chickpeas, cooked



Soak cashews in 500 millilitres (2 cups) of filtered water with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for a minimum of two hours/up to six hours. Then rinse thoroughly with fresh water. This will increase the digestibility of the nuts and remove any moulds and mycotoxins.


Preheat oven to 180 C.


Line a baking tray with parchment paper and roast nuts for 10 - 15 minutes until dry and crunchy.


Remove and let cool.


Place all remaining pesto ingredients into a high-speed food processor and mix until well combined.


Cook the pasta until al dente and then combine by hand with pesto, broccoli, and chickpeas.


Serve warm. Also great for a next day lunchbox.




*Sunflower seeds also taste wonderful for a nut free version. Quickly toast them in a skillet and let cool.

**Replace with 20 g (1/2 cup) parmesan.


***Gluten-free pasta is often made with legumes so this is a great option to make a complete protein meal. Wholemeal spelt pasta is also a great combo.





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