A simple vegetarian pasta dinner with peas and fried halloumi. You can choose to make this with prepared pesto for a very quick and easy dinner, or use my recipe for minty pistachio pesto for something special.
A bowl of pasta is always an easy win for a satisfying vegetarian dinner, but if you enjoy having some kind of protein on your plate, something to cut into, fried slices of halloumi cheese are an easy answer!
Here we use sliced halloumi to top a bowl of spaghetti tossed with pesto and peas, with some cherry tomatoes on top. There is lots going on in this bowl to keep every bite a little different, but it’s really easy to throw together too.
Using ready made pesto
While I am giving you a recipe for minty pistachio pesto, which I believe to be the perfect pesto for this dish, you can of course use something ready made. Ready made pesto will turn this into a really easy weeknight dinner.
You just need 5 ingredients: spaghetti, frozen peas, cherry tomatoes, halloumi and pesto.
Ready made pesto can make this a budget friendly option
All of the ingredients can be sourced at discount supermarkets like Aldi with a bill coming in around the £5 mark (and you’ll have leftover peas and spaghetti!)
Whether halloumi cheese is available in the likes of Aldi will depend on where you live. It certainly is in Aldi and Lidl UK and I believe that Aldi USA and Aldi Australia have it, though I can’t say if it’s universally available or available year round in those countries.
If you’re not on a tight budget, I would always recommend fresh pesto over jarred for a more legit basil flavor.
Homemade Minty Pistachio Pesto
If you are willing and able to source the ingredients for homemade pesto, that’s great! The pesto in this recipe is a slight deviation from my classic vegetarian pesto recipe:
- We include three leaves! Basil and mint for flavor, and spinach for extra nutrition and bulk.
- We use pistachios instead of pine nuts for a slightly richer finish that feels right for this dish.
You don’t have to make either of these changes, of course, you can make this as a classic basil pesto if you wish. I just love how mint complements both the halloumi and the peas here, and it’s worth using if you can.
I tried this many ways, so here are some ideas.
- I loved making this with asparagus instead of peas (or you can do both!) I didn’t include asparagus in my final recipe because it’s just a little too exclusive. It’s expensive and only in season a short time. Whereas frozen peas are probably in your fridge right now! But I want you to know that asparagus is so good here.
- I like this with a long pasta shape such as spaghetti or tagliatelle, but a short pasta shape such as penne or conchiglie will still work well.
- You could cube the halloumi and toss it though with the pasta if you just want something you can eat more easily one handed with a fork, especially if you’re using a short pasta shape.
- If you’re at the time of year where tomatoes are underwhelming, and you have some extra time, try roasting your cherry tomatoes with garlic, salt and olive oil! Bland tomatoes come to life a little more when they’re roasted.
More Comforting Halloumi Dinners
Halloumi Pesto Pasta
- 225 g (8 oz) halloumi, sliced
- 150 g (1 cup) cherry tomatoes , halved
- 250 g (2 cups) frozen peas
- 300 g (11 oz) spaghetti
Minty Pistachio Pesto
- 5 tbsp pistachios, pine nuts, cashews, or any other nuts are fine to swap in
- 75 g (3 cups) basil leaves
- 10 g (¼ cup) mint leaves
- 60 g (2 cups) spinach leaves
- 45 g (⅓ cup) parmesan or Italian hard cheese, grated
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon juiced
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
- Prepare the pesto. Pulse the garlic, nuts and parmesan in a small food processor until chopped. Add the basil, mint and spinach in batches, alongside the lemon juice and olive oil, until you have a well blended but still slightly textured sauce.5 tbsp pistachios, 75 g basil leaves, 10 g mint leaves, 60 g spinach leaves, 45 g parmesan or Italian hard cheese, 2 cloves garlic, 80 ml olive oil, 1 lemon juiced
- Prepare your pasta. Boil according to package instructions, adding the peas for just the last minute of cook time. Drain and toss with pesto. Set aside while you prepare the halloumi.300 g spaghetti, 250 g frozen peas
- Fry your halloumi. Heat a small layer of oil in a frying pan, at a medium-high heat, then add the halloumi slices and cook for a 2-3 minutes on each side until golden.225 g halloumi
- Plate it up! Scoop some spaghetti onto a plate, making sure to grab lots of peas from the pan as well. Add halloumi slices, then cherry tomatoes on top. (You could additionally garnish this with extra herb leaves, chopped pistachios or shaved parmesan if you wish.)150 g cherry tomatoes