Lamb Pasta with Springtime Veggies & Lemon Pesto

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This Lamb Pasta with Springtime Veggies & Lemon Pesto is the ultimate spring-inspired recipe! The pasta is tossed in a lemon basil pesto sauce with easy homemade spicy grass-fed lamb sausage & springtime veggies like asparagus, broccolini, & spring peas. Light, bright, feel-good food, this grass-fed ground lamb pasta recipe is a simple 45-minute dinner that’s great for both weeknights & meal prep. Serve this lamb pesto pasta for a nice dinner at home or at a springtime dinner party with family & friends!
Finished lamb sausage pasta served in a white double-handle braiser with two wooden serving spoons resting inside. The braiser sits atop a creamy white textured surface with a blue and white striped linen napkin loose fresh basil leaves, and a small white plate topped with a block of parmesan cheese surrounded by freshly grated parmesan.

The Most Spring-Inspired Lamb Pasta Dish Imaginable!

Everything about this pasta dish is the best of springtime: bright & herbaceous pesto, tender spring veggies, & spicy lamb sausage made with New Zealand grass-fed lamb & a few staple spices. I cannot think of a better combination to welcome in the season.

This lamb pasta is so special because each of its components come together to build the perfect balance of flavor. Seasonal spring veggies like asparagus, broccolini, & English peas serve as a natural pairing for lean & tender grass-fed ground lamb, while my go-to lemon pesto sauce adds a brightness that brings it all together. Each component of this lamb pesto pasta enhances the others, creating a dish with a sum greater than its parts – absolutely restaurant-worthy!

When it comes to lamb, it doesn’t get better than New Zealand grass-fed lamb. Its flavor & quality is truly unrivaled! This is due in part to the fact that the climate in New Zealand makes it one of the best places in the world for pasture-raised farming, yielding leaner & more flavorful grass-fed lamb. Not to mention, it’s one of my absolute favorite ingredients to work with because its flavor is both rich & delicate all at once. New Zealand grass-fed lamb is the perfect addition to cozy-yet-light meals like this lamb pesto pasta!

Lemon Pesto Lamb Pasta Recipe Highlights

This lamb sausage pasta recipe is a must-try for spring because it’s…

  • CRAZY FLAVORFUL. New Zealand grass-fed lamb adds a uniquely rich flavor to this lamb pasta recipe, enhanced by pairing it with tender springtime veggies & a lemony basil pesto sauce.
  • VEGGIE-LOADED. English peas, asparagus, broccolini, & baby spinach are some of the best veggies of the spring harvest, & they just so happen to make for a perfect pairing with grass-fed lamb!
  • RESTAURANT-QUALITY. The well-balanced flavors in this spring-inspired pasta recipe rival even the best restaurant pasta dishes. Staying home for dinner has never been so delicious!

Light, bright, & balanced – springtime dinners don’t get better than that! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Lamb Pasta with Springtime Veggies & Lemon Pesto, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

Key Components in this Lamb Pasta with Springtime Veggies

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

This lamb pasta dish consists of 4 key components, each quick & simple to prepare…

  • Homemade lamb sausage – Don’t be intimidated here, there’s no meat grinder necessary! This easy homemade sausage combines already-ground New Zealand grass-fed lamb with a handful of staple spices, creating a foundation of rich flavor.
  • Spring vegetables – Springtime vegetables are a natural pair for lamb’s robust flavor. Shelled English peas, tender asparagus or broccolini, & a handful of baby spinach add a vibrant splash of green with fresh seasonal flare.
  • Lemon basil pesto – My go-to pesto is easy to make at home with just a handful of ingredients, including lemon for a nice kick of brightness.
  • Pasta – I’m partial to orecchiette, a round cupped pasta that perfectly cradles bits of grass-fed lamb sausage, spring veggies, & lemon pesto in every bite.

Quick & Easy Homemade Spicy Grass-Fed Lamb Sausage

Making homemade sausage may sound intimidating, but this particular recipe is crazy quick & easy. With no need for grinding meat & stuffing sausage links, prepping this sausage is as simple as mixing New Zealand grass-fed ground lamb with a few staple spices & seasonings. It takes about 5 minutes & seriously could not be easier!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

How to make this simple lamb sausage:

Simply season New Zealand grass-fed ground lamb with garlic, lemon juice & zest, fennel seed, Italian seasoning, paprika, & crushed red pepper flakes. Use your hands to mix everything together, taking care to avoid over-working the meat. Why? ⇢ Over-mixing can give the meat a tougher texture. Keep the lamb nice & tender by combining until just mixed – no longer!

Ingredient Spotlight:

New Zealand Grass-fed Lamb

New Zealand grass-fed lamb is raised on family farms, where the sheep are free to roam in green pastures & graze naturally. This makes a big impact on how the meat tastes! Grass-fed lamb from New Zealand has a richer flavor profile & leaner texture thanks to all of the rich nutrients in the animal’s diet.

The local farmers who raise New Zealand lamb have been working hand in hand with nature for generations & are experts at caring for animals in open pastures. This lush, wide-open space reserved for grazing also helps protect & nurture the biodiverse New Zealand land (which, in turn, helps the whole planet!).

Get shopping!Find New Zealand grass-fed lamb at a store near you!

Meal Prep Tip!

Spicy ground lamb sausage is an easy thing to prep ahead of time, so your pasta comes together even faster at dinnertime – it takes 10 minutes, tops! Once prepared, simply store the sausage in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. At dinnertime you can jump right into cooking – told you it was easy! 😉

Our Favorite Seasonal Pasta Sauce – Lemon Basil Pesto

The second component that makes this grass-fed lamb sausage pasta recipe so special is a quick & simple lemon basil pesto sauce. This particular pesto is my go-to everyday sauce, & it tastes exceptionally good in the spring. It’s filled with herbaceous flavor, irresistible nuttiness, & a burst of bright lemon – seriously the best! As a bonus, it only takes a few minutes to whip up.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

How to make lemon basil pesto:

1

Finely chop the aromatics. Add fresh basil, garlic, lemon zest & juice, finely grated parmesan, & pine nuts to a food processor, then pulse to combine. Homemade Pesto Tip! ⇢ For a pesto sauce with creamy, dreamy texture, pulse gently, stopping occasionally to scrape down any bits on the sides to ensure everything combines.

2

Finish the pesto. Run the food processor & slowly stream in olive oil until you get the perfect consistency for the pesto. Why? ⇢ Slowly streaming in the olive oil gives it time to mix & form the perfect consistency.

Prefer store-bought? While I love whipping up a quick & easy pesto sauce, your favorite store-bought pesto will also work great in this lamb pesto pasta. Tip! ⇢ When it comes to store-bought sauces, try folding in a little fresh lemon zest & juice. This will help bring its flavors back to life!

Meal Prep Tip!

Similar to the spicy grass-fed lamb sausage, this lemon basil pesto is also super easy to prep ahead of time. Once it’s mixed, transfer the pesto sauce to an airtight container & store it in the fridge for up to 1 week. Pesto oxidizes easily & can lose some of its green color, so be sure to seal it tight!

Bringing It All Together: How to Make a Delicious Springtime Lamb Pasta Dish!

Once the spicy grass-fed lamb sausage & lemon basil pesto sauce is ready, all that’s left is pulling it all together to make the ultimate springtime pasta dish. It’s a super simple & quick process – here’s what you’ll do!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

*Weeknight Prep Tip!

Once you begin cooking, this lamb pasta comes together very quickly – there isn’t much time to multi-task. I highly recommend gathering & prepping all of the veggies before you start cooking – dice the onion, chop the spring veggies, & measure everything out, placing it all within an arm’s reach of the stove. Check out the Recipe Notes, below, for more meal prep tips!

1

Boil the pasta & blanch the peas. Add the pasta to a pot of boiling salted water. About 2 minutes before the pasta is al dente, add the fresh English peas to the pot. By the time the pasta is cooked, the peas will be perfectly blanched – no need for a separate pot! Tip! ⇢ Don’t forget to reserve a cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta. This starchy water is liquid gold & comes in handy when assembling the perfect lamb pasta dish.

2

Brown the grass-fed lamb sausage. Add the homemade spicy lamb sausage to a skillet with a bit of olive oil & cook until it’s nicely browned. Tip! ⇢ A wooden spoon is best for breaking sausage into bite-sized crumbles as it cooks. From there, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, leaving all of the amazing rendered lamb juices in the pan to cook with the veggies.

3

Cook the aromatics & springtime veggies. Sauté the yellow onion & garlic, then add asparagus &/or broccolini to the skillet & cook until tender-crisp. Simple!

4

Finish the lamb pesto pasta. Mix the lemon pesto with the cooked spring veggies & add the baby spinach to the skillet, allowing the sauce to warm & the spinach to gently wilt. Then add the pasta, English peas, & browned lamb sausage, tossing everything together until it’s well-coated in the pesto sauce. Cook the lamb pasta for a few minutes to allow all the flavors to meld together into a cohesive pasta dish. Tip! ⇢ If the pasta needs to loosen up a little, add a little pasta water. If it needs to tighten up, add a handful of parmesan cheese.

Serving Lamb Pesto Pasta

Once the grass-fed lamb sausage pasta is tossed together, it’s ready to serve right away. (You’ll totally be ready to dig in by this point, trust me!)

Pile the finished pasta into your favorite pasta bowls, then top with some extra grated parmesan cheese, chopped fresh basil, & a dash of crushed red pepper flakes (if you like an extra kick).

Storage & Reheating

Leftover lamb pesto pasta stores incredibly well – it’s the kind of thing that gets even more flavorful as it sits & its flavors meld together. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding an extra splash of water to loosen up the lamb pasta as needed. This trick helps bring the pasta dish back to life – just as good as fresh off the stovetop! Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more tips.

I can’t wait for you to try this Lamb Pasta with Springtime Veggies & Lemon Pesto! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

Feeling Spring-Ready? Be sure to try a few of our favorite epic seasonal dishes, like Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Balsamic & Rosemary, Creamy Mascarpone Pasta with Peas & Asparagus, Spring Vegetable Salad, or Homemade Springtime Chicken & Dumplings next. ♡ Happy cooking!

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Finished lamb sausage pasta served in a white double-handle braiser with two wooden serving spoons resting inside. The braiser sits atop a creamy white textured surface with a blue and white striped linen napkin loose fresh basil leaves, and a small white plate topped with a block of parmesan cheese surrounded by freshly grated parmesan.

Lamb Pasta with Springtime Veggies & Lemon Pesto

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Pasta Recipes, Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean

Description

This lemon pesto lamb pasta is the ultimate spring-inspired pasta dish! The pasta is tossed in a lemon basil pesto sauce with easy homemade spicy grass-fed lamb sausage & springtime veggies like asparagus, broccolini, & spring peas. Each component enhances the others, building the perfect balance of flavor. The result is a restaurant-worthy pasta dish whose sum is greater than its parts – light-yet-bold, rich-yet-bright, & totally cozy-yet-feel-good!

When it comes to ingredients, freshness is key. Grab the best-looking spring veggies at the market & be sure to look for New Zealand grass-fed lamb – its flavor & quality is truly unrivaled! (Check the Recipe Notes, below, to learn more about New Zealand grass-fed lamb!)

An easy-to-make, 45-minute dinner perfect for a nice weeknight dinner at home or a springtime dinner party with family & friends. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 pound spicy lamb sausage, below
  • 1/2 cup lemon basil pesto, below
  • 8 ounces orecchiette or short pasta of choice
  • 4 ounces shelled English peas (about 2/3 cup), can sub frozen peas – see Recipe Notes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus &/or broccolini, woody ends trimmed & chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: fresh basil leaves, grated parmesan, crushed red pepper, etc.

for the spicy lamb sausage:

  • 1/2 pound New Zealand grass-fed ground lamb
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 lemon, zested & juiced
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • up to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

for the lemon basil pesto: 

  • 1 1/4 ounces fresh basil leaves & tender stems (about 1 cup loosely packed)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, zested & juiced
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 34 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to seasonLamb pasta ingredients arranged on a creamy white surface: spicy lamb sausage made with New Zealand grass-fed ground lamb, garlic, pasta, asparagus, broccolini, baby spinach, yellow onion, English peas, and lemon basil pesto.

Instructions

Prep Note: Once you begin cooking, this lamb pasta comes together very quickly. I like to mix the spicy lamb sausage up first, setting it aside to rest while I get the pasta water boiling & chop the spring veggies. Have the pasta ready to drop as you begin to cook the veggies & it should be perfectly al dente by the time you’re ready to build the lamb pasta dish. These prep notes are included throughout the Recipe Directions, below, for your convenience. 

  1. Mix the spicy lamb sausage: Combine all listed ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper, as desired. Use your hands to mix just until combined – take care to avoid over-mixing. Set aside to rest while you prep the other lamb pasta components. This is a great time to bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta (see Step 3, below), chop the veggies according to the Ingredients List above, & prep the lemon pesto (see Step 2, below). Alternatively, you can transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. How to make lamb sausage pasta, step 1: Mix the spicy lamb sausage. A spicy lamb sausage mixture fills a clear glass mixing bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. The bowl is surrounded by fresh lime wedges and a small ceramic pinch bowl filled with red chili flakes.
  2. Prep the lemon basil pesto: Place all listed ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Pulse to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed. With the processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil until your desired consistency is reached. Set aside, or transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.Blended lemon basil pesto in a food processor carafe, atop a white surface surrounded by additional pesto ingredients that are out of focus.
  3. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, generously salt the water. Add the pasta. Stirring often, cook to al dente according to package directions. About 2 minutes before al dente is reached, add the fresh peas to the pot to blanch as the pasta finishes cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain the pasta & set aside.How to make lamb pasta, step 3: Boil the pasta. Cooked orecchiette pasta and shelled English peas fill a blue Staub cocotte that sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  4. Brown the spicy lamb sausage: Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot & shimmering, add in the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break the sausage into fine, bite-sized crumbles as it cooks. The sausage should render & brown nicely – if it starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the browned sausage to a plate & set aside. Drain & discard any excess fat. How to make lamb pesto pasta, step 4: Brown the spicy lamb sausage. Spicy lamb sausage browns inside of a white double-handle braiser. The braiser sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  5. Cook the aromatics & spring veggies: (This is a great time to drop your pasta & cook according to Step 3, above.) Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot & shimmering, add the yellow onion. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened & translucent, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic & cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the asparagus or broccolini to the skillet, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes longer. How to make lamb pasta, step 5: Cook the aromatics & spring veggies. Yellow onion, garlic, asparagus and broccolini cook inside of a white double-handle braiser. The braiser sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  6. Build the lamb pasta: Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Add the lemon basil pesto from Step 2 to the skillet, along with the baby spinach. Add the pasta & blanched peas over top – the hot pasta will begin to wilt the spinach & loosen up the lemon basil pesto – along with the browned lamb sausage from Step 1 & toss to combine. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if the lamb pasta needs to loosen up a little; add in an extra handful of parmesan if it needs to tighten up. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, allowing the pasta to meld & absorb some of the lemon pesto sauce.
  7. Serve: Portion the lemon pesto lamb pasta into individual pasta bowls, topping with additional grated parmesan & chopped fresh herbs as desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!Finished lamb sausage pasta served in a white double-handle braiser with two wooden serving spoons resting inside. The braiser sits atop a creamy white textured surface with a blue and white striped linen napkin loose fresh basil leaves, and a small white plate topped with a block of parmesan cheese surrounded by freshly grated parmesan.

Notes

  • Ingredient Notes:
    • New Zealand grass-fed lamb: The quality & flavor of New Zealand grass-fed lamb is seriously amazing, thanks in part to the fact that the temperate climate in New Zealand makes it one of the best places in the world for pasture-raised farming. Grass-fed lamb has a richer flavor profile & leaner texture because of all the rich nutrients in the animal’s diet. Its exceptional flavor is what makes this quick lamb pasta dish so special. Learn more & find New Zealand grass-fed lamb at a store near you!
    • Fresh vs frozen peas: If you cannot find shelled fresh peas, frozen spring peas make a great substitute for this recipe as they’re picked & frozen at the peak of their ripeness. Rather than blanching the peas with the pasta as written, add the frozen peas to the skillet when you add the pesto & baby spinach (Step 6). While blanching is great for fresh peas, it will overcook frozen peas. 
  • Storage & Reheating: Leftover lamb pasta will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding an extra splash of water or cooking stock to loosen up the lamb pasta as needed, until warmed through.
  • 15-20 Minute Meal Prep: While there’s a few components involved in this grass-fed lamb pasta recipe, you can easily cut down on active prep required at dinnertime by prepping one or two in advance. Pick & choose from:
    • Mix the spicy New Zealand lamb sausage according to Step 1 of Recipe Directions. Transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (5 minutes active prep)
    • Prep the lemon basil pesto according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions. Transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (10 minutes active prep)
    • Dice 1 medium yellow onion & trim + chop 1 pound asparagus or broccolini according to Ingredients List, above. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (5 minutes active prep)

Keywords: lamb pasta recipe, homemade lemon basil pesto, weeknight pasta dishes, spicy lamb sausage

Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 5.21.22
    Kate said:

    This was absolutely delicious and quite possibly the healthiest pasta recipe I’ve ever had?! We will definitely be making this again very soon (especially while asparagus is in season)!

    • 5.23.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks so much, Kate! It’s seriously satisfying & fresh – we’re so glad you love it as much as we do!

  2. 5.14.22
    Barbara said:

    Such a delicious meal and it really comes together quick. This is really a flavorful dish and I love how veggie forward it is. I appreciate your meal prep tips – they really come in handy! I had a pound of ground lamb so I doubled the sausage when I meal prepped and put half in the freezer for next time. Highly recommend this recipe – it’s a keeper!

    • 5.15.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks so much, Barbara! So glad the meal prep tips were helpful & you could use up the delicious lamb you had on hand!:)

  3. 5.1.22
    Ashley said:

    Loved this!! Had some Italian sausage that I needed to use up so I subbed that in for the lamb, and I forgot to buy pine nuts so I used walnuts instead. My boyfriend and I went to town on this for dinner and I still have enough to take leftovers for lunch for a couple of days. Highly recommended!

    • 5.6.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks Ashley! So glad you enjoyed this springtime pasta – thanks so much for dropping a comment!

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A side angle shot of pasta tossed in San Marzano tomato sauce that is plated on a creamy white speckled plate. The pasta has been garnished with parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil. The plate sits atop a creamy white surface with a light blue linen napkin tucked underneath the plate. A set of silverware rests alongside the plate and a few loose basil leaves and a small wooden pinch bowl filled with parmesan cheese rest just above the plate.