Our backyard is home to some very patient tulips. Three weeks ago, the first green stems poked just above the ground, and they’ve been waiting quietly for the air to warm to continue growing since. I’ve been far less tolerant. Despite the frigid temps, I’ve been filling our dinner table with all of the spring green I can, including this Avocado Pasta with Peas and Asparagus. Since today is the first day of spring (yay!), I decided it was time to share it, even if the tulips have yet to bloom.
If you’ve contracted a case of spring fever too, this creamy Avocado Pasta is sure to soothe your winter-weary soul. After months of snowy skies and heavy stews, this Avocado Pasta’s riot of green abundance is the breath of fresh air I didn’t realize how badly I needed until it was on my plate.
Even if spring weather is slow to arrive, this Avocado Pasta can be on your table in a hurry. Start to finish, it’s ready to go in 25 minutes, and it’s well-rounded and healthy too.
Avocado Pasta – A Healthy Weeknight Recipe
The secret to making this spring pasta taste creamy and decadent, a role usually filled by heavy cream and butter, is Greek yogurt and avocados. It’s a trick I discovered when I first made this Spicy Avocado Pesto, and I’ve loved it since.
I blended the two together in the food processor, along with a giant handful of fresh basil and splash of lemon juice. The result was a vibrantly fresh and velvety smooth avocado sauce that robed every piece of pasta in its bright flavor and creamy texture.
I did look at making the avocado pasta sauce without the food processor, but there simply wasn’t a way for the sauce to be smooth or creamy enough. I promise the few minutes you spend washing the processor bowl at the end will be completely worthwhile.
If you are concerned about the Avocado Pasta calories, this recipe is fairly light, especially compared with standard creamy pasta sauces. You’ll see some fat, but it’s the healthy kind, courtesy of those dreamy avocados.
Avocado Pasta Recipe Variations
Once you have the avocado sauce prepared, this Avocado Pasta is a blank slate for whatever vegetables or noodles you care to add. I loaded mine with my personal spring favorites: asparagus, peas, and arugula. The resulting contrast in flavor, texture, and even shape from the three was wonderful. Every forkful was like a mini bite from a spring garden.
We found this Avocado Pasta plenty satisfying without the meat, but if you’d like to add some to yours, avocado chicken pasta would be delicious (you can sauté some diced chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper in the pan first, then add it back in at the end). Topping the pasta with grilled chicken or shrimp would be wonderful too.
For some extra pizazz, I also suspect that making this avocado pasta bacon topped would be nothing short of scrumptious. It would be the healthier cousin of this more decadent Chicken Bacon Pasta with Peas.
For the pasta, I chose whole wheat orecchiette noodles.
Using whole wheat pasta in place of white provides an extra boost of nutrition without any extra effort. The orecchiette shape is simply because I adore it. Besides being super cute (you think your pasta is cute too, right?), the “little ears” hold the avocado sauce beautifully, and the peas nestle right inside of them, as if being added to Avocado Pasta is what they were grown to do.
I’m hoping that the tulips will bloom soon. Until they do, I plan to enjoy a taste of spring anytime I need it in the form of Avocado Pasta. Tasty and healthy, it’s a fantastic weeknight meal!
Avocado Pasta with Asparagus and Peas
- 8 ounces whole wheat pasta — I used orecchiette
- 1 pound asparagus — tough ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium ripe avocado — halved and peeled with the pit removed
- 1 clove garlic — peeled
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves — plus additional for garnish
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves — plus additional for garnish
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt — plus additional for cooking the pasta
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 small green onions — thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 cups fresh arugula
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Freshly grated Parmesan — optional for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta. About 3 minutes before the pasta is due to finish cooking to al dente (according to package instructions), add the asparagus and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain the pasta, and set aside.
While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Add the avocado, garlic, Greek yogurt, parsley, basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender. Process on high for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium low. Add the green onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until soft. Add the arugula and peas and cook another 2 minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the drained pasta and asparagus. Add the avocado sauce and toss gently to combine, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water as needed if the pasta is too thick or clumping together. Taste and add additional salt and/or pepper as desired. Serve immediately.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 4), about 1 3/4 cups each) — Calories: 355, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 228mg, Carbohydrates: 49g, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 15g
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