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Lemon Pesto Spaghetti with Italian Meatballs

Make it a dinner and a movie night by pairing watching Disney’s Monsters Inc with this Monster Green Pasta and Meatballs with an easy and healthy lemon pesto sauce. It’s a fun dinner to make with kids with lots of hidden veggies in the pesto sauce and meatballs

a bowl of pasta next to a monsters inc DVD

I’m thoroughly enjoying coming up with these kid movie themed recipes! Monster’s Inc was one of the first movies requested when I first threw out this idea on Instagram.

My kids love this because of the fun bright green color and they always call it the monster spaghetti. A fun silly name is always a winner with kids!

I love the fact that there are hidden veggies in this. The meatballs have zucchini and carrots in them, the pesto is made with spinach and the kids don’t seem to mind one bit!

a jar of pesto with a spoon full of the sauce resting on the top of the open jar

Ingredients you need

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Spinach
  • Sliced almonds
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Spaghetti
  • Italian meatballs- we prefer these homemade baked Italian meatballs but you can also use frozen turkey meatballs

Substitutions you can make

Instead of spinach try using arugula, kale or stick with more traditional pesto and use basil leaves.

You can also substitute cashews for the almonds or again go traditional and use pine nuts. I usually opt for cashews or almonds because they are a lot cheaper and I almost always have them already on hand.

pesto spaghetti with meatballs

How to make this

  1. Boil spaghetti according to package directions. Also, heat the meatballs in a microwave or in the oven until heated through.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, chop the parmesan cheese, spinach and almonds on high power for about 1 minute, or until the whole mixture has been combined well.
  3. Add the salt, olive oil and lemon juice and process again on high speed until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and process again as needed.
  4. Once the pasta is done, drain it and immediately toss with the lemon spinach pesto. Add the meatballs and toss again.

Other recipes you might like

Tips and Tricks

How to get kids excited about trying pesto pasta?

Ask for their opinions

Kids get much more interested and excited when they feel they get to have a say in meal time. One way to make trying new foods fun for kids is to make it a game or to ask for their opinion.

Something you can try is to make this with different styles of noodles each time and then have your children vote for which style they like best. Alternatively, you could make 1/2 pound of two different pastas and allow everyone to choose which they would rather use.

flecks of veggies in a meatball nestled in green pasta

Have them help

Most kids I know are super excited about meatballs. Making your own mini meatballs is fun for kids and also easier for smaller kids to eat.

I love these homemade Italian meatballs because they have tons of hidden veggies in them. Thankfully because there is so much flavor from the cheese and spices the kids never seem to mind!

You can also have kids help make the pesto. When kids help make foods they are far more excited to try them!

Plus, kids are fascinated to watch lots of things go into a food processor and come out as something completely different. It’s like a really cool cooking magic trick!

Find more tips in my guide to help kids become world food explorers.

Do you follow Jonesin’ For Taste on Facebook? Stop by, say hi, and let me know what kinds of recipes you want to see!

Recipe

A bowl of lemon pesto spaghetti with meatballs

Lemon Pesto Spaghetti with Italian Meatballs

Kids go crazy for this Monster Green Pasta and Meatballs with a healthy Lemon Pesto sauce served with easy baked homemade Italian meatballs.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 624kcal
Author: Jade Jones

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 5 cups spinach
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 1 lb. Italian meatballs

Instructions

  • Boil spaghetti according to package directions. Also, heat the meatballs in a microwave or in the oven until heated through.
  • Meanwhile, in a food processor, chop the Parmesan cheese, spinach and almonds on high power for about 1 minute, or until the whole mixture has been combined well.
  • Add the salt, olive oil and lemon juice and process again on high speed until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and process again as needed.
  • Once the pasta is done, drain it and immediately toss with the lemon spinach pesto. Add the meatballs and toss again.

Notes

You can substitute arugula, kale, or basil for the spinach.
Cashews or pine nuts can also be substituted for the almonds.

Nutrition

Calories: 624kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 511mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1880IU | Vitamin C: 8.6mg | Calcium: 259mg | Iron: 2.4mg
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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    That lemon pesto spaghetti looks so good. I a ma huge fan all types of pesto, so, I can’t wait to try this recipe.

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