Calling all pesto lovers! You’re going to love this Pesto Pasta Salad. It’s a simple, crowd-pleasing recipe with creamy pesto, simple veggies and white beans for a little protein boost.
Pasta salad is always a crowd favourite at gatherings and cookouts. If there’s one type of salad that everyone can agree on, it’s made with noodles, am I right?
This recipe is basically turning one of my favourite easy meals, pesto pasta, and turning it into a simple, cold side dish (or main!) that you can serve at summer gatherings or meal-prep for lunches throughout the week.
Here’s how to make it:
How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad:
Get your pasta ready. I recommend using shorter pasta noodles like fusilli, rotini, penne or farfale. Cook according to package instructions, and rinse with cool water immediately after straining so the noodles don’t get all sticky. Then set aside 4 cups.
While your noodles are boiling, you can make the dreamy pesto sauce. Do this by blending or processing basil, spinach (optional), nuts or seeds (I used a mixture of pine nuts and pepitas), parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and olive oil together. See full recipe below for measurements!
Once the noodles are cooked and the pesto is ready, you can assemble the salad. For veggies, I used grape tomatoes, red onion, and black olives. Cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives work perfectly, too! Feel free to add a leafy green like baby spinach or arugula as well. As mentioned, I also included white beans in this recipe for a boost of plant-based protein and fibre. This gives the salad a little more staying power – keeping you fuller for longer.
Toss it all together in a large mixing bowl until the noodles, veggies and beans are well-coated with the creamy basil pesto sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can totally add some crumbled feta cheese or diced mozzarella to jazz things up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, toss again and refrigerate until ready to eat or enjoy this pesto pasta salad immediately!
Notes About This Recipe:
I added spinach to my basil pesto recipe for a little nutrition boost. Feel free to omit or skip this if you like. The pesto will be just as tasty without it!
Feel free to omit the white beans and add chicken if that’s more up your alley!
If you want to make this recipe vegan, you can sub nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan for the cheese (or omit parmesan all together) and skip the optional cheese add-ins!
Other Recipes You’ll Enjoy:
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Pesto Pasta Salad with White Beans
Pasta Salad Ingredients:
- 4 cups whole grain pasta, cooked and cooled (fusilli, rotini, penne or farfale)
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes quartered
- 1/2 medium red onion sliced
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced black or kalamata olives
- 2 cups canned white beans drained and rinsed
- Optional: Crumbled feta, diced mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup packed baby spinach
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, walnuts or pepitas
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Cook pasta if you haven't already. When cooked, drain and rinse immediately with cool water to prevent noodles from sticking together. Place in a large mixing bowl to let cool.
- Make your pesto. In a blender or food processor, combine the first 6 pesto ingredients and process until well-combined. Continue to process on low while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Stop to scrape down the sides as necessary. Process until ingredients are broken down into a smooth, creamy sauce.
- Assemble the pasta salad. Add tomatoes, red onion, olives, and white beans to the mixing bowl with the cooled pasta noodles. Pour all of the pesto over top and toss well until all ingredients are coated.
- Add optional cheese if you wish and toss again to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then enjoy or store in refrigerator until time to eat.