Hot, sticky summer days are here – perfect days to think about NOT heating up the house and about eating light & healthy. And when light and healthy means cool and delicious, too, like this Pesto Pasta Salad, that’s a winner.
This Pesto Pasta Salad is dressed with pesto and brimming with smoky grilled vegetables, all punctuated by a cool, crisp hit of vinegar and crunchy, creamy pine nuts. You can see that there’s a good measure of the healthy stuff (including cannellini beans) and this salad is a little light on the pasta coz that’s how I roll.
Pesto Pasta Salad’s a great a meal on its own (and a great pack away for lunches) you couldn’t go wrong with some good bread & olive oil for dipping, maybe a glass of wine. Yeah, do that and have a party on the deck or patio or tote this along to a bbq, party or a potluck.
The is a bonus recipe because those grilled vegetables make a fantastic side in their own right with the Italian herbs (I use my own blend of Italian Seasoning) and that slight hint of smoke. Try them with just about any grilled chicken or fish. And if these veggies aren’t your fave, just use ones you love.
Any pesto work in this dish, traditional, like my favorite Pesto Recipe or a little non-traditional, like my Radish pesto. It’s supplemented with a little parsley from my garden. Pesto freezes beautifully so when I’m at a loss of what to do with those radish tops, pesto is the first thing that comes to mind.
Just after I took my pictures & we made a good dent in the Pesto Pasta Salad I saw I forgot the cherry tomatoes – and it was still delish. What you don’t want to forget is the Red Wine Vinegar; it brightens up the whole salad. You might want to drizzle any leftover Pesto Pasta Salad with a bit more vinegar. Don’t stint on the salt, either.
I love pine nuts in pesto because they’re so creamy and just mix in beautifully, but they can be pricey. Look for them in bulk and you’re going to pay less than the package and if there’s a nut outlet, consider buying from them. Either way, a half a cup plus a few for sprinkling probably won’t break the bank, especially considering that this is a meatless meal. Store all nuts in the freezer & they stay fresher longer.
Pesto Pasta S alad with Grilled Vegetables
- 6 ounces farfalle (1/2 box) cooked al dente
- 2 small or one large zucchini or summer squash, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 red onion, sliced 1/2″ inch thick
- 2 red and/or orange bell peppers, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, your favorite blend or homemade concoction
- Salt and pepper
- one to two teaspoons red wine vinegar, to taste
- 15 ounces (1 can) of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced or one regular tomato, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup pesto or more if desired (about 1/4 the recipe – freeze the rest…)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or red wine vinegar
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente in boiling, salted water. Rinse and drain well.
In the meantime, preheat grill to medium high heat (350 degrees). In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini and/or summer squash, bell pepper, onion, Italian seasoning and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Grill vegetables, covered, four to six minutes on each side until lightly charred. Let cool and chop, sprinkle with red vinegar to taste and set aside.
Toss pasta and beans with pesto and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine. Taste the vegetables and make certain they are seasoned to your taste. Add a few more herbs or a bit more vinegar if desired.
Mix gently with vegetables and refrigerate for two hours or so to combine ingredients. Drizzle with lemon or additional red wine vinegar before serving – this recipe needs that touch of acid at the end or it will tend to taste dull.
Garnish with pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil and/or basil. Note: this recipe contains olive oil, which thickens up when cold. If it seems “stiff” add a tablespoon or so of warm water or another drizzle of olive oil before serving.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
Cooking & Kitchen Hacks
Easily Cut Cherry Tomatoes, Grapes, Olives, Etc. Simply place the lid of a yogurt, sour cream container, or other suitable object upside down (lip up) on the counter, fill with whatever round objects you want to cut, place another lid lip down, press gently but firmly and slice horizontally through the center. Click here for more hacks!
Put Your own Spin on It
- Vary the vegetables per season or per what you like – Broccoli would be wonderful here.
- You could break this down – serve the pasta and pesto with the vegetables on the side. I actually like the vegetables without the pasta as a side dish “Medley.”
- Of course, you could certainly play with this anyway the spirit moves you…
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value *|
|Total Fat 11 g||16 %|
|Saturated Fat 0 g||2 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 1 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g|
|Trans Fat 0 g|
|Cholesterol 6 mg||2 %|
|Sodium 345 mg||14 %|
|Potassium 533 mg||15 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 51 g||17 %|
|Dietary Fiber 8 g||31 %|
|Sugars 5 g|
|Protein 14 g||28 %|
|Vitamin A||7 %|
|Vitamin C||63 %|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|