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Thai Basil Pesto Pasta

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Thai basil pesto is a fun pesto that yes Thai basil leaves, almonds, and spinach to create a fun and flavorful twist o the classic basil pesto. Easy to make with kids and ready in 10 minutes!

Thai basil pesto is a fun pesto that uses Thai Basil leaves, almonds, and spinach to create a fun and flavorful twist on the classic basil pesto. Easy to make with kids and ready in 10 minutes!
two white bowls of pasta with thai basil pesto and forks, thai basil flowers around bowls
thai basil pesto pasta in white bowl with flowers behind

Thai basil pesto is a great twist on a classic pesto. Great to mix into pasta, but also awesome to use as a spread for sandwiches, mix into salads, and more.

I always grow it in my garden because it is such a fun herb to work with. I love it Thai Basil Chicken.

thai basil pesto in white bowl with basil flowers behind

Is Thai Basil different from Italian Basil?

Yes! They are from the same family, but Thai basil has smaller leaves. The flavors also intensify when cooking, which makes it a great choice for curries, stir fries and soups. It has a more savory sharp flavor and a more pungent smell. Italian basil tends to be milder and sweeter.

Want your kids to know more about culinary herbs and how to use them? Check out my “Kids Guide to Herbs” workbook for activities, recipes and more!

ingredients needed for thai basil pesto

Ingredients Needed

You only need a few simple ingredients to make this pesto pasta:

  • Thai Basil – You will want to use Thai basil for this recipe, not Italian basil. It can be a little harder to find in the store (which is why I always grow it in my garden) but you can find it in Asian/Thai specialty stores.
  • Spinach – Use baby spinach leaves to get the best results.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Use freshly grated parmesan cheese, not the powdered stuff.
  • Sliced Almonds – Use sliced almonds because they are the easiest to break down in your food processor. You can also use unsalted dry roasted peanuts. Pine nuts are also an acceptable substitution.
  • Avocado Oil – You will want a mild flavored oil in this pesto. Avocado oil or grapeseed oil are the best choices, you will not want to use a flavorful olive oil.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic cloves or garlic puree for the best flavor.
  • Lime Juice – lime juice helps brighten the flavors. You can also use lemon juice. Salt and Pepper to taste
two bowls with rotini pasta and thai basil pesto

How to make pesto pasta

This recipe is very simple to make! Here is a brief overview of the recipe to give you an idea of how it works. For the full set of directions and measurements, please make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below!

  1. Place the uncooked bulgur in a medium sized saucepan with the water. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook until the bulgur is cooked through, about 12 minutes.
  2. Chop the parsley, cucumber, tomato, mint and green onion.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette dressing.
  4. When the bulgur is done, strain any excess water out.
  5. Place the cooked bulgur, chopped vegetables and herbs, and vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl and toss to coat.
  6. Cover with a lid and chill for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

  • Give the basil a good wash and pick the leaves off the stems.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the basil, spinach, parmesan cheese, avocado oil, sliced almonds, garlic cloves, lime juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Blend until it is as smooth as you can get it, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • When the pasta is done, remove and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pan.
  • Add the pesto to the cooked pasta and stir to coat. Add in a little pasta water if needed to thin out the pesto and help it coat the pasta.
  • Serve with a sprinkle more of grated parmesan, if desired.

*Recipe Note: *Recipe Note: You can also swap out the almonds for unsalted dry roasted peanuts for a fun flavor twist.

processing ingredients for thai basil pesto in food processor

How to make this pasta kid friendly 

I am a firm believer that all food is kid friendly! It all depends on how to approach and serve a meal. Here are some easy ways to get your kids more likely to try this fun pesto pasta meal.

Dinner conversations with kids

How we talk about a food is so impactful on whether or not your kids are willing to try it. Try these conversation starters to help your kids be more mindful about your meal.

  • How is this pesto different from other pesto we have had before?
  • Look at how the pesto covers the noodles. Do you think it would cover a different noodle shape differently?
  • What else would be good to serve with this meal?

Read more about how to explore the sense of taste with your kids.

Kids in the kitchen: How your kids can help you cook

Inviting kids to cook with us is a great way to teach them important life skills, but its also an excellent way to help them be more curious about the food you serve, and more likely to try it.

This thai pesto is great because it’s so simple and has so many steps kids can help with.

  • Kids aged 1-3 can help you pick the basil, wash the basil, remove the leaves from the stems, and help add things to the food processor.
  • Kids aged 4-6 can do everything above plus measure ingredients, grate the parmesan, and use the food processor with assistance.
  • Kids aged 7-10+ can help you do everything above, plus help you make the pasta.

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! Read more about how to have your children help you in the kitchen.

two white bowls of pasta with thai basil pesto and forks, thai basil flowers around bowls

Food tastes better when its shared! If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and rate below!

Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share this post, please link to this post directly for the recipe, please do not copy and paste or screenshot. Thanks so much for supporting me! xoxo

two white bowls of pasta with thai basil pesto and forks, thai basil flowers around bowls

Thai Basil Pesto Pasta

Thai basil pesto is a fun pesto that uses Thai Basil leaves, almonds, and spinach to create a fun and flavorful twist on the classic basil pesto. Easy to make with kids and ready in 10 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: 30 Minute Meal
Cuisine: American, Thai
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 183kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Food Processor

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated
  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (affiliate link)

Instructions

  • Give the basil a good wash and pick the leaves off the stems.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the basil, spinach, parmesan cheese, avocado oil, sliced almonds, garlic cloves, lime juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Blend until it is as smooth as you can get it, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • When the pasta is done, remove and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pan.
  • Add the pesto to the cooked pasta and stir to coat. Add in a little pasta water if needed to thin out the pesto and help it coat the pasta.
  • Serve with a sprinkle more of grated parmesan, if desired.

Notes

*Recipe Note: You can also swap out the almonds for unsalted dry roasted peanuts for a fun flavor twist.

This pesto can be made up to 4 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 183kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 397mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 753IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 100mg | Iron: 0.5mg

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