Dairy Farmers of Canada

Emerald Isle Pesto Pasta

Our dietitians' favourite

The many shades of green are a stunning sight when you visit Ireland, the Emerald Isle. Now, you can bring that vibrant colour to your dinner table to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with this tasty and easy pasta dish. A simple sauce made with milk blends wonderfully with a nutritious and flavouful – and green! – pesto made with spinach, broccoli and basil and finished off with the zest of Canadian Parmesan cheese.

  • Prep: 20 min
  • Cooking: 15 min
Yields 4 - 6
emerald isle pesto pasta


  • 4 cup (1 L) packed baby spinach (about 4 oz/125 g)
  • 2 cups (500 mL) frozen broccoli florets, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) grated Canadian Parmesan cheese divided
  • 12 oz (375 g) spinach or regular fettuccine
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk
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1. In a food processor, combine spinach, broccoli, basil, garlic and lemon juice; pulse until finely chopped. Add ½ cup (125 ml) of the Parmesan and process until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook fettuccine for about 10 minutes or according to package directions, until tender but firm.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk together flour, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, for about 10 minutes or until thickened and just starting to bubble. Stir in spinach pesto.

4. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add sauce and toss gently to coat. Serve sprinkled with remaining Parmesan.


If you don’t have a food processor, you can use an immersion blender in a large, tall cup or an upright blender to make the pesto but you will need to add about ½ cup (125 mL) of the milk to help purée the vegetables. Just make the sauce in step 3 with the remaining 1½ cups (375 mL) milk.


To boost the protein in this dish, add 1 to 2 cups (250 to 500 ml) shredded cooked chicken to the milk sauce and heat through before adding the pesto

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Nutritional information

Per serving
Energy: 355 Calories
Protein: 17 g
Carbohydrate: 58 g
Fat: 6 g
Fibre: 4.2 g
Sodium: 452 mg

Top 5 Nutrients

(% DV*)
Calcium: 25 % / 273 mg
Folate: 107 %
Selenium: 97 %
Thiamin: 51 %
Vitamin C: 62 %