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Nut-Free Pesto Pasta with Panko Bread Crumbs

A school-safe, summery pesto pasta. A great way to get some fresh greens into kids' meals - my kids love it!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4
Author whiteblankspace


  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil the amount I can hold with two hands
  • 2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic or 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or more to desired consistency
  • 1 lb cooked pasta shells or fusilli works well
  • 1 cup pasta cooking water
  • optional cubed manchego cheese
  • optional quartered cherry tomatoes


  1. Place basil, spinach, panko, parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. Stop the processor and scrape down the sides if needed.
  2. While the food processor is running, drizzle olive oil through feed tube. Stop the processor as soon as you finish pouring the oil. Try not to over-process.
  3. In a large bowl, mix pasta, pesto, and a little bit of pasta cooking water. Keep adding more water until the pesto sauce becomes creamy.
  4. Mix in manchego cheese and cherry tomatoes if desired.

Recipe Notes

"2 handfuls" is about the amount I can hold with my two hands.