Vegetable Pasta Salad with Pesto: A Very Quick Dinner

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Looking for quick dinners that will bring comfort and nourishment without a lot of hassle? This meatless Vegetable Pesto Pasta is hearty without being heavy. Bonus: It comes together in minutes!

It’s too hot to be in the kitchen! You lose all motivation to plan, shop, and cook during the summer.

You struggle getting to the store often enough. It seems your child’s stomach is a bottom-less pit. How can you get dinner on the table without another trip to the store?

Your days are just packed and by the time you head to the kitchen to prep dinner, you are just exhausted. You and Google have had an ongoing conversation about healthy, convenient food, but you’re not convinced it exists.

Whatever your kitchen struggle is right now, there is an easy way to get food on the table without freaking out, going broke, or spending hours of your already limited free time:

Make a pasta salad that’s ready to go when you are.

As much as you plot and plan, your home doesn’t always run like the well-oiled machine you wish it were. Things happen. Life happens. And you often find yourself in a big ole’ mess with hungry people waiting and no time or energy to meet their needs.

That’s when having a few quick dinners in your repertoire can really save your bacon!

Pasta salad is a prime go-to meal for quick dinners. Pasta is cheap — and available in multiple shapes, sizes, and types. No longer reserved for folks who can eat gluten, there’s now every kind of pasta imaginable – wheat, corn, rice, quinoa, even chick pea! Noodles are super easy to keep on hand so you don’t have to constantly be running to the store.

One of the beauties of pasta salad is that you can make it a few days in advance and keep it cold in the fridge. You can cook it when you’ve got time and ENERGY in the cool of the day and stash it away for later.

It’s easy to pack, super versatile for dressings and fillings, and proves to be hearty without being heavy. It’s basically homemade convenience food.

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Pesto

This recipe for Vegetable Pasta Salad with Pesto makes good use of summer’s bounty: tomatoes, basil, and green beans flourish during this season, making this a great seasonal dish to enjoy for month’s to come. And in the off season? It’s easy to find good quality green beans, packaged pesto, and grape tomatoes which tend to hold their flavor better throughout the year.

You can use homemade or commercial pesto, or in the case of a nut or dairy allergy, blend up a batch of my Rustic Basil Sauce. It’s a slimmed down option of pesto (an Italian basil sauce with nuts and cheese) or pistou (a French basil sauce with cheese). Whichever sauce you choose, this Vegetable Pasta Salad will be delicious.

How I make this cheap:

This Vegetable Pasta Salad with Pesto is pretty economical by virtue of its being a meatless pasta dish. Here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe even more affordable:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale! When I see a great price on pasta, I buy a lot of it. We almost always have a stockpile of noodles in the pantry. The same goes for olives, pesto, and Parmesan, the pricier ingredients in this dish.
  • Take advantage of tomatoes in season. You’ll enjoy better flavor and cheaper prices making this dish in the summer and fall. Be sure to ask the neighbors if they’ve got too many tomatoes on their hands. Maybe they’ll share. You can also plant your own tomatoes. There’s an upfront investment, but if your plants do well, you’ll enjoy better quality for less.
  • Grow your own basil. It’s not expensive to grow basil. In fact, a plant at my grocery store is usually the same price or cheaper than a small packet of leaves.

Tools I use to make this recipe easy:

This is a pretty straight-forward dish. You don’t need any fancy equipment to cook pasta! However, having some good basic kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.

After you’ve enjoyed this pasta salad, I’d love for you to come back and give it a starred rating. Thanks so much!

0 from 0 votes
Vegetable Pasta Salad with Pesto
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins

This meatless Vegetable Pesto Pasta is hearty without being heavy. Bonus: It comes together in minutes!

Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pasta salad, pesto pasta salad, vegetable pasta
Servings: 6
Calories: 334 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 12 ounces ziti cooked according to package directions, drained
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce or Rustic Basil Sauce
  • 2 cups chopped, steamed green beans
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  1. In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Rinse with cool water and drain.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta, pesto sauce, green beans, tomatoes, olives, and cheese. Toss to coat.

  3. Chill until ready to serve. 

Recipe Notes

Store any leftovers, covered, in the fridge up to 4 days. Just taste and season again if needed before serving.

Nutrition Facts
Vegetable Pasta Salad with Pesto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 334 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 4mg1%
Sodium 410mg18%
Potassium 279mg8%
Carbohydrates 49g16%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 771IU15%
Vitamin C 8mg10%
Calcium 123mg12%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Amber in Bend Oregon says

    5 stars
    Excellent inspiration as always! Made this recipe with the addition of some precooked sliced chicken breast from the freezer to make it the main dish for our big eating family. I used the instant pot to cook the pasta (helps keep my kitchen cooler in addition to doing it in the morning). Thanks for keeping the ideas flowing for beating this heat and keeping the hangry away.

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