Lemony Basil Pesto & Pasta

 
Lemon basil pesto meal prep, pasta meal prep 1

PASTA? Go wash your mouth out with soap. Pasta and dieting are like peanut butter and mayonnaise: they don’t go together.

Okay, that’s not true. But it’s something I totally believed, especially in the Atkins low-carb era (circa 2013). The truth is, pasta can fit into a healthy diet, you’ve just got to eat it wisely. A couple rules I try to follow if I’m prepping pasta for meal prep are:

  • Choose ancient grain, whole grain, or legume pasta (not enriched flour pasta)

  • Eat an equal amount of protein with your pasta (1 cup + 1 cup, for example)

  • Pair pasta with vegetables, whether it’s roasted veggies, a vegetable sauce, or noodles made of veggies!

In some ways, pasta is just a delivery system to get more veggies and protein in my mouth. Whatever works, right?? Plus, those yummy carbohydrates give me the energy I need to slay my next workout.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS,

Lemon basil pesto meal prep, pasta meal prep 2

SQUEEZE THEM INTO PESTO SAUCE. This sauce is vibrant, fresh, and interesting. A craving for tangy lemons lead me to adding a fresh squeeze and some lemon zest into this pesto. It was FOR KEEPS! Like blooming flowers or 4 sneezes in a row, this sauce welcomes springtime beautifully. It's got a subtle tang that I can't get enough of. Oh, and it's basically a superfood sauce due to spinach, olive oil, and walnuts. YES please.

The best thing about this dish is... well... so many things. But one of them is that it tastes even better over time. The flavors get acquainted and hold up great for up to 7 days! While I usually advise storing your sauce and dry ingredients separately, that's not necessary for this meal. Stir it up! It will not become soggy or mushy because the chicken and pasta are very dense.

 

lemon-basil

PESTO PASTA MEAL PREP

Fresh and vibrant, this superfood pesto is a must-try for spring. This meal prep recipe has flavors of fresh basil, spinach, walnuts, and lemon. Paired with grilled chicken and whole wheat pasta for a complete dish.

Lemon basil pesto meal prep, pasta meal prep 3

Servings: 4 meals

Pesto ingredients

  • 1 cup spinach

  • 1 cup basil

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 lemon + the zest

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

  • 2-4 cloves garlic

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat or ancient grain penne pasta (dry)

  • 2 1/2 cups grilled chicken breast

Instructions

  1. Add penne pasta to a pot of salted, boiling water and cook until al dente. Set aside.

  2. For the pesto, combine all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor and pulse until incorporated. Afterward, slowly drizzle in olive oil while the processor runs.

  3. Cut chicken into strips or cubes.

  4. Combine penne, pesto, and chicken. Transfer to four meal prep containers and store airtight for up to 7 days.