Made with just a few simple ingredients, this fresh and flavorful Pesto Pasta Salad is a quick and easy family meal you’ll be able to pull together even on those nights you don’t really feel like cooking. Bonus: It stores really well in the fridge for easy future meals too.

pesto pasta salad in large bowl

Pesto Pasta Salad

I love easy pasta salads and this one is a favorite that we turn to for dinner all the time—and it also works great to pack in lunches. The pesto gives it fresh flavor and nutrition and the rest of the ingredients are super simple and easy to prep.

I love this pasta salad recipe because it’s really straight forward and it relies on veggies for crunch, beans for protein, and pesto for flavor (and extra nutrition). It’s a wonderfully easy meal on its own or paired with corn on the cob, chicken tenders, or a side of fruit.

And yes, I do realize that some kids may not want the veggies or beans—and that’s fine! There’s plenty of nutrition in the pasta and pesto itself and exposure to the other ingredients is a good thing. Maybe one day they’ll surprise you and try one of those foods!

TIP: Read more about normal picky eating here.

Ingredients You Need

To make this pasta salad recipe you’ll need the following ingredients.

ingredients-in-pesto-pasta-salad-recipe
  • Pasta: Any kind you like, whether regular, whole wheat, gluten-free, or bean based.
  • White beans: I prefer cannellini beans as they are very tender.
  • Cucumber: Any variety works, though English cucumber tends to have less seeds (which is more pleasant in my opinion.)
  • Cherry tomatoes: Any color works, though yellow tend to be a little sweeter.
  • Pesto: You can use store-bought pesto, or Spinach Pesto or Kale Pesto.

TIP: Add diced chicken, shrimp, or mozzarella for additional protein if desired. Add shredded Parmesan, diced olives, or roasted sunflower seeds for additional flavor if you’d like!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s a look at the basics involved in making this easy recipe. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full information.

pesto-pasta-salad-in-glass-bowl
  1. Prepare your pasta according to package directions. Let cool.
  2. Toss pasta with the veggies, beans, and pesto to coat thoroughly.
  3. Serve or store and eat later.

TIP: I like to use a smaller shape of pasta like elbows, mini wagon wheels, ditalini, or farfalle so the pasta is about the same size as the beans and veggies.

pesto pasta salad lunch container

How to Pack Pasta Salad for Lunch

This is a great kids lunch recipe to make ahead of time and pack throughout the week. (I love to have it on hand for myself too!) Simply make it ahead, store it in the fridge, and pack it in your favorite lunch box.

The kids can plan to eat it chilled at school, though it should also be fine at room temperature.

TIP: You can pack a spoon or fork with this pasta salad, or assume the kids will eat it with their hands if they aren’t quite using utensils reliably yet.

pesto pasta salad in colored kids bowls

How to Store

You can make this up to 3 days ahead and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Best Tips for Success

  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  • Add diced chicken, shrimp, or mozzarella for additional protein.
  • Add shredded Parmesan, diced olives, or roasted sunflower seeds for additional flavor.
  • I like to use a smaller shape of pasta like elbows, mini wagon wheels, ditalini, or farfalle.
  • I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it premade from the store.
  • Pack in a lunch box or serve for dinner.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe if you try it, so please comment below to share.

pesto-pasta-salad-in-bowl

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

This is an easy family dinner or lunch. I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it pre-made from the store.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Amy Palanjian
Cuisine Italian
Course Dinner
Calories 158kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups diced cucumbers (about 1 medium or 2-3 mini)
  • 2 cups halved or quartered cherry tomatoes (or 1 10-ounce container)
  • 14.5- ounce can white cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup pesto
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. I like to use a smaller shape like elbows, mini wagon wheels, ditalini, or farfalle. Drain and add to a large bowl or storage container. Toss with the oil and let cool at least slightly.
  • Stir in the cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, and pesto. Start with ½ cup pesto and add more as you like. The more you add, the more flavor it will have (which may be good or bad depending on your preference!)
  • Season to taste with salt. Serve at room temperature or store and serve later.

Notes

  • You can make this up to 3 days ahead and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  • Add diced chicken, shrimp, or mozzarella for additional protein.
  • Add shredded Parmesan, diced olives, or roasted sunflower seeds for additional flavor.
  • I like to use a smaller shape of pasta like elbows, mini wagon wheels, ditalini, or farfalle.
  • I like to use Spinach Pesto for this, but any will work if you prefer to buy it premade from the store.
  • Pack in a lunchbox or serve for dinner.

Nutrition

Calories: 158kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 449mg, Potassium: 547mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 764IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This recipe was first published May 2020.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is my new go-to pasta salad recipe for summer potlucks! So good! (I added a little mayo for richness.)