Swiss chard walnut pesto and roasted tomatoes is the perfect heart healthy topping to your favorite pasta.
Monday night was always pasta night at my house growing up. (and sometimes Sunday too, if we were going to Grandma’s!). Over the years our traditional pasta dinner has transformed into healthier variations. I like to give myself some credit for these changes (hello, dietitian in the family!), by introducing some healthy twists to pasta night.
Revamp your pasta dish with starting with the pasta itself. Switch it up to add more variety, but also a boost in nutrition. Try whole wheat pasta for more fiber or a plant based pasta like Banza (chickpea pasta) or black bean pasta for an extra boost of fiber & protein.
I used Banza pasta for this recipe because I love the rotini shape. Banza packs in 13 grams of fiber and 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounce serving. It’s like built in portion control because it’s so filling!
Skip the heavy cream sauces and try a pesto as a heart healthy pasta topping. The ingredients in this Swiss chard walnut pesto recipe contains heart healthy benefits including:
- Swiss chard contains Vitamin E which has shown anti-inflammatory effects and helps protect tissue from oxidation damage. Eating foods with plenty of vitamin E might also reduce the chances of developing coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack or heart failure.
- While most nuts contain monounsaturated fats, only walnuts are comprised primarily of polyunsaturated fat (13 grams out of 18 grams total fat). Polyunsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.
- Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.
Rethink your pasta night by trying this pesto! This recipe does make more pesto needed for the amount of pasta. To save leftovers, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, or freeze in an ice cube tray for later use.Print
- 3 cups Swiss chard, stems removed
- 1/2 cup unsalted walnuts
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons garlic
- 1 lemon, juice and zested
- 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 box pasta (I used Banza)
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath and a colander. Blanch the Swiss chard in the boiling water until tender, about 2 minutes. Shock immediately in the ice water. Drain by squeezing the leaves in a ball in a clean kitchen cloth.
- In a food processor, add the cooked Swiss chard, walnuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 3/4 cup olive oil. Pulse until the mixture breaks down. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the grape tomatoes and saute about 5 minutes until tomatoes begin to burst. Add the 2 cups of the Swiss chard walnut pesto (there will be some leftover) and heat through. Toss with the cooked pasta.
- Top with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.
*Makes about 3 cups of pesto. Reserve leftovers in the refrigerator for about a week or freeze into an ice cube tray for later use.