15-Minute Pasta Salad with Almond Pesto

A quick and easy 15-minute pasta salad with almond pesto. This simple vegan pasta salad is perfect for busy weeknights. It’s also a great lunchbox or picnic recipe.

pasta salad with almond pesto, tomatoes, basil, arugula and nutritional yeast in a bowl

If you’re looking for a quick and easy lunch or dinner recipe, look no further. This pasta salad is made with a simple almond butter pesto and served with chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes. All you need is 15 minutes and a handful of ingredients.

Pasta Salad Ingredients:

  • Pasta: Use a short pasta, such as rotini, fusilli or macaroni. A short to medium pasta will make this salad easier to eat. Ideally, use pasta with ridges, which will scoop up the sauce. This will make every bite saucy and flavorful. I used rotini.
  • Chickpeas: Use canned chickpeas for a quick and easy option. Make sure to drain and rinse the chickpeas. You can use chickpeas that you cooked yourself if that’s what you have on hand. Make sure that the chickpeas are well cooked and soft.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: These little tomatoes add a juicy bite to the salad.
  • Sundried Tomatoes: I use sundried tomatoes stored in seasoned oil, which adds a generous amount of flavor to this dish. Make sure to chop them into small pieces.
  • Arugula: These tender leafy greens add a peppery flavor to the salad. You can also use baby spinach if preferred.
  • Fresh Basil: This is an important ingredient and the base of our pesto.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is used to make our simple pesto. You can also use the oil in the jar of sundried tomatoes.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
  • Almond Butter: We’re using almond butter instead of toasted nuts in the pesto. This helps us skip a step (and saves us from turning on the oven). Trust me, it’s delicious!
  • Nutritional Yeast: This adds a light cheesy flavor to the pesto. You can skip it if you don’t have some on hand.
  • Lemon Juice: This helps brightens the dish.
  • Salt: I recommend using fine grain sea salt.

How to Make a 15-Minute Pasta Salad:

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to prepare a simple 15-minute pasta salad with almond butter pesto.

  1. Cook the Pasta

    Start by cooking the pasta according to the package’s instructions.

  2. Chop the Vegetables

    While the pasta is cooking, chop the cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes.

  3. Prepare the Almond Pesto

    Add the garlic to a food processor and process for a few seconds to chop. Next, add the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, almond butter and salt. Process until it gets to your desired consistency.

  4. Assemble the Salad

    Toss the cooked pasta with the pesto, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, arugula and chickpeas. Top with additional nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan if desired. Serve cold.

pasta, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, sundried tomatoes in bowls, plus basil leaves
pesto in a small bowl seen from the top

Pasta Salad FAQ:

How Can I Save Time While Making This Recipe?

To save yourself an extra step, you can use your favorite store-bought pesto (vegan if desired). Just add how much you want.

Can I Use Different Vegetables?

Yes! You can use different vegetables, such as diced cucumbers, chopped spinach and/or red onions. Olives and chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, would also be delicious in this salad. Use what you have on hand. However, don’t add too many extra vegetables as you’ll need to make more pesto to compensate for the extra volume.

How Can I Add More Protein to this Pasta Salad?

If you want to add more protein for satiety, you can add more chickpeas. Keep in mind that you might need more pesto if you add too many chickpeas, to avoid a dry pasta salad. You can also use a chickpea or lentil pasta instead of wheat pasta. Another option, if you don’t mind the extra prep time, is to serve this pasta salad with crispy tofu. I also love to serve this pasta salad with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for flavor, which also adds a bit of protein.

Can I Make the Recipe Gluten-Free?

For a gluten-free option, use your favorite gluten-free pasta. Make sure not to overcook the pasta to help it keep its shape and avoid a soggy pasta salad.

More Easy Vegan Recipes You Might Like:

And if you’re looking for more quick and easy ideas, you can find more 15-minute vegan recipes here.

pasta salad with almond pesto, cherry tomatoes, basil and arugula in a bowl seen from the side
pasta salad with almond pesto, cherry tomatoes, basil, arugula and chickpeas in a bowl, closeup

15-Minute Pasta Salad with Almond Pesto

A quick and easy 15-minute pasta salad with almond pesto. This simple vegan pasta salad is perfect for busy weeknights. It's also a great lunchbox or picnic recipe. It's ready in the time that it takes for the pasta to cook.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine vegan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 box (375g) pasta of choice, such as fusilli, rotini or macaroni
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Nutritional yeast, for topping (or use vegan parmesan)

Almond Butter Pesto

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, about 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or oil from the sundried tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Instructions

  • Start by cooking the pasta according to the package's instructions. Avoid overcooking.
  • While the pasta is cooking, chop the cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes.
  • Prepare the pesto: Add the garlic in a food processor (ideally a small one, but any will work). Process a few seconds to chop. Next, add the rest of the pesto ingredients. Process until it gets to your desired consistency.
  • Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Return to the saucepan or to a large bowl. Toss with the pesto, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, chickpeas and arugula.
  • Serve cold with additional nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

The almond butter pesto is inspired by a recipe in Alexandra Daum’s beautiful cookbook, Occasionally Eggs. It’s such a delicious and quick way of making pesto.
For a gluten-free option, use gluten-free pasta.
To add more protein, you can use a chickpea or lentil pasta. You can also serve the pasta salad with crispy tofu.
To skip a step, you can use store-bought pesto to taste.
I love serving this pasta salad with my vegan parmesan if I have some on hand. For a quicker option, you can simply use nutritional yeast.

If you make this pasta salad with almond pesto, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! I love to hear from you guys. And of course, if you try this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram!

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WELCOME!

Nourished by Caroline

I’m Caroline, a registered dietitian located in Kelowna, British Columbia. I focus on plant-based nutrition and intuitive eating. I believe in living a balanced life, while eating the food you love. Learn more about my practice here or book an appointment today!

 

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