Easy pesto pasta salad is loaded with veggies and white beans for a delicious cold side dish for parties and potluck meals. Top it with parmesan cheese and fresh basil for a dish that’s colorful and inviting.
Pasta Salad with Vegetables
You’re going to love this veggie pesto pasta salad. It’s delicious and it’s packed with healthy ingredients like bell peppers, white beans, and whole wheat pasta. Plus tons of flavor from sundried tomatoes, parmesan and pesto!
This is a great salad for summer parties because it’s made with pesto instead of a creamy base. Most everyone I know loves pesto so this is a real crowd pleaser!
It’s a make-ahead recipe for easy hosting or planning. Mix it up the night before or the morning before a party, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
This recipe is so simple and the ingredients are easy to find.
- Pasta. I use whole wheat for extra nutrition. Rotini pasta works well for this salad because the spirals hold on to the pesto. Other varieties to try are penne, bowties, or elbows.
- Vegetables. Colorful bell peppers add color and crunch and go well with the pesto. I also use sundried tomatoes which add a bit of sweetness and compliment the basil flavor.
- Beans. White navy beans or cannellini beans give this dish a meaty bite and makes this a good recipe for vegetarians. If you want to make it vegan you can eliminate the Parmesan cheese on top.
- Pesto. I use a jar of prepared pesto sauce for this recipe. It makes it easy and convenient to make any time of year. Use your favorite brand or make your own if that’s your jam.
How to Make It
One of the things that makes this recipe so easy is that you combine two steps into one. You’ll quickly cook the bell peppers just so they are tender with a firm bite.
- Follow the package directions to cook the pasta AL DENTE.
- You’re going to add the pepper strips into the boiling water during the last minute of pasta cooking time.
- Drain and rinse the beans using a strainer and running it under warm water. This gets rid of the extra sodium added in the canning process.
- Remove the sundried tomatoes from the jar and pat them with a paper towel to remove excess oil; then cut them into strips.
- Finally, combine the pesto with all the ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate so all the flavors have time to marry and develop. Give it one more stir before serving.
The addition of beans adds a bit of protein and fiber to balance out the nutrition. Plus, the wheat pasta and fresh vegetables adds even more!
HOSTESS TIP: Add in some roasted shredded chicken to turn this into a meat packed entrée for a ladies luncheon.
More Pasta Salad Recipes
- My creamy pasta salad recipe is a family favorite.
- This pasta salad with brocolli & peanuts has a Thai flavor twist that’s irresistible.
- My cold Thai noodle salad with shrimp is packed with FANTASTIC flavors and textures. Make it with or without the shrimp to serve as an entrée or a side dish.
- Another crowd favorite is the Asian noodle salad with peanut sauce.
- And as a bonus, if you like the sliced peppers in this recipe you may love them in this marinated green bean salad too.
- 3 cups Pasta (rotini, penne, farfalle or elbows)
- 1 EACH red and yellow bell peppers, cut into strips
- 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, cut into strips
- 7 ounce jar prepared pesto
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil for garnish
- Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- When there is 1 minute left on the cooking time, add the peppers to the boiling pasta and cook for the remaining minute.
- Drain pasta and peppers in a large colander and let cool slightly.
- Transfer to a large serving bowl and toss in beans and sundried tomatoes. Add pesto and mix well to combine.
- Stir in cheese, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving so flavors can develop.
- Sprinkle with fresh basil when ready to serve.