15-Minute Cold Pesto Pasta Salad with Veggies
This simple 15-Minute Vegetarian Pesto Pasta Salad is full of fresh flavor and incredibly easy to make at home with a small-shaped pasta. Cooked pasta is tossed with chopped spinach and basil, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and homemade or jarred pesto sauce. Serve cold, and enjoy!
Woot woot! Its summer time 💃🏼
I don’t know about you, but I have all things grilled and chilled on the brain. I’ve been dreaming up all kinds of amazing salad recipe ideas…and this Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad is one of them!
Pasta salads are summer staple in many houses and are an awesome way to keep veggies on the menu that go beyond the typical veggie platters and tossed salads. They are easy to veggie-load and super simple to adapt to make your own (or use up whatever about-to-go-bad veggies you have kicking around in the fridge).
This Pesto Veggie Pasta Salad recipe is a flavor bomb and super simple to make in just 15 minutes (start to finish). Boil the pasta, toss everything together, and done! The pesto brings all kinds of flavor to this easy summer recipe without much effort and the addition of fresh mozzarella cheese makes this pasta salad recipe extra delicious. You can use store bought pesto to keep this recipe extra easy or up your veggie game by using a homemade version like this spinach pesto. This vegetarian pasta salad recipe is rocking tomatoes, chopped spinach, and basil already, but don’t be afraid to amp up the veggies with some of my suggestions below! And since this cold pesto pasta salad works with whatever pasta you like best, it is easy to make gluten free!
- Make it gluten free. Use your favorite gluten free pasta. Any type of pasta will work well in this recipe.
- Need dairy-free? This pesto pasta salad with vegetables can easily be made dairy-free by leaving out the cheese. Buy a dairy-free pesto (Trader Joe’s has a really good one!) or omit the parmesan cheese from the recipe included. Easy peasy and not so cheesy.
- Make it nut-free. Make the pesto nut free by using pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or you can make the pesto without any nuts or seeds in it.
- Add more veggies! This recipe is very versatile. You can add any veggies you want to it. Check out your fridge for veggie odds and ends that need to be used up. Hit the freezer for a frozen veg that needs a purpose! Not feeling adventurous? Check out Extra Veggie-Loading Suggestions below for some ideas on what I think would be magical in this veggie pasta salad.
- You can use any kind of mozzarella cheese you’d like. I often buy the small mozzarella balls and cut those in half or buy a larger ball and cut that into a ½-inch pieces.
Will you have some leftover spinach after making this pasta salad and don’t want it to go to waste? Check out How to Store Spinach (and keep it fresh all week long).
Extra Veggie-Loading Suggestions
I love that this veggie pasta salad has tomatoes, spinach, and basil deliciously worked right into it. But, as with so many of my veggie-loaded recipes, I totally encourage you to make this salad your own and UP the veggie-loaded goodness with whatever vegetables you love and/or simply need to use up!
If you love the bones of this veggie pasta salad but want some ideas of what else you could add, here are a few suggestions of how I’d bump it up:
- defrosted frozen peas
- steamed or roasted broccoli florets
- cooked and chopped asparagus
- cooked and chilled green beans
- sliced snap peas
- sautéed or grilled zucchini
- diced bell peppers
- dice avocado
Another way to bump up the veggies in this pasta salad recipe is by adding veggies to the pesto!
By NO MEANS do you have to make your own pesto for this veggie pasta salad (I didn’t!), but you CAN if you want to and it is a great way to get bonus veggies in. For reals. Pesto is already green, so we can easily add some extra veggies in there! Plus, homemade pesto is really easy to make if you have the ingredients on hand.
Other delicious salad recipes to keep you veggie-loaded this summer
- Corn and Black Bean Salad
- Easy Greek-Inspired Quinoa Salad
- Mashed Chickpea Salad
- Veggie-Loaded Spring Chicken Salad
- Fajita Salad with Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
Did you try this veggie pasta salad recipe and now you’re hungry for more?
15-Minute Cold Pesto Pasta Salad with Veggies
- 8 ounces small-shaped pasta
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quartered
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
- 1 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pesto, store-bought or homemade
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, following package instructions. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Add tomatoes, mozzarella, and chopped spinach to a large bowl. Once pasta is cooled, add to the bowl then top with the pesto. Stir well to combine and coat the pasta in the pesto.
- Taste the pasta and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.