Pesto Pasta Salad: Well, summer is quickly approaching, and that means one thing- pasta salad season! This pesto pasta salad is the perfect addition to your summer time menu. It’s packed with nutrients and made with a fresh homemade pesto sauce.
what’s in this homemade pesto?
Olive Oil: first and foremost, olive oil is the base of this pesto sauce. I find that a high-quality, high-grade olive oil makes a big difference in flavor, but any olive oil will do.
Basil & Spinach Leaves: For that beautiful green color and classic pesto taste. You can use any fresh herbs or greens of your choosing, but I typically stick to basil, spinach, parsley, or kale.
Pine Nuts or Cashews: I’ve used both cashews and pine nuts- separately and together in this recipe. They’re both delicious options! The cashews and pine nuts will add a slightly nutty flavor and an amazing texture to your sauce.
Garlic: always garlic, right?!
Nutritional Yeast: If you don’t know, nutritional yeast is a dairy-free and vegan substitute for creating a cheesy flavor. I love using it in recipes that call for parmesan. And an added bonus, it’s #paleo and #whole30 friendly.
Lemon Juice: For a tangy contrast to the other ingredients. You can always add more to taste as well.
options for making pesto pasta salad:
Homemade vs. Store Bought: This recipe shows you how to make an incredibly easy version of homemade pesto with ingredients you likely already have at home. But, if you don’t have a food processor at home, or you have a store-bought pesto you love, use that! I’m all about the convenient life!
Pasta Options: In this recipe, I love using a chickpea or red lentil pasta because it’s lighter than a typical whole grain pasta. But any pasta will work here, again it’s all personal preference. You could use whole wheat, brown rice, lentil, chickpea, or even your favorite traditional pasta!
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1/4 cup olive oil high quality
- 1/2 cup pine nuts cashews work as well
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1½ cups fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup spinach leaves a large handful
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast or parmesan
- 1/4 tsp salt more to taste if necessary
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp water optional, for thinner consistency
- 1 package chickpea or red lentil pasta or pasta of your choice
- 3 mini cucumbers sliced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/2 small red onion diced
- 3 mini sweet peppers chopped
- 100 grams crumbled feta optional
- Start by adding all ingredients for the pesto to a food processor. Pulse until fully blended. If it is too thick for your liking, add a tablespoon or so water.
- Cook pasta to package instructions and chop all vegetables. Add the pesto sauce and vegetables to pasta in a large bowl or pot. Mix well until everything is coated.
- Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or longer if you prefer to serve cold. If serving warm, add the pesto to pasta in a pot and lightly warm on the stove before adding the vegetables.