This Pesto Pasta Salad with parsley and pistachios is the perfect gluten-free, vegetarian picnic food or BBQ side dish. Made with just a handful of ingredients, you’ll have this ready in no time.
Whether you’d like to serve this pesto pasta salad as a main dish or side dish, this pasta salad is perfect for any occassion. Growing up, my dad made a lot of homemade pesto but without the cheese due to my mom’s dislike of cheese so trust me when I say I’ve nailed down a delicious dairy-free pesto! You won’t even notice that the cheese is missing!
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works
You’re going to love just how easy it is to make this pesto pasta salad. On top of ease, this pasta is also:
- Meal prep friendly
- Can be easily scaled up for parties and potlucks
- Minimal cooking needed, perfect for hot summer nights!
Vegan pesto — I make my own pesto for this pesto pasta salad. I use a combination of parsley, pistachios, garlic, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, za’atar, salt, and pepper. The nutritional yeast has a similar flavour profile to cheese so be sure to not skip that!
Pasta — Feel free to use gluten free or whole wheat pasta, based on your dietary preferences. You can even use chickpea pasta or lentil pasta if you’d prefer.
Mix ins — To add more nutritional value to this salad, we pack it with a ton of mix ins like snap peas, tomatoes, onions, olives, pomegranate arils, and cucumbers. These can all be used without cooking to cut down on cooking time. You can swap with whatever vegetables you have in your fridge.
How to Make This Recipe
Step 1: Combine the parsley, pistachios, garlic, nutritional yeast in a food processor.
Step 2: Puree the mixture until smooth. Then add the olive oil, lemon juice, za’atar and salt and pepper to taste.
Step 3: Toss the cooked pasta with the pesto sauce.
Step 4: Toss the pesto pasta salad with the rest of the salad veggies, olives and pomegranate arils. Enjoy at room temperature.
Be sure to cook your pasta in a pot of salted water.
Don’t let the pasta cool too much before tossing the pasta in the pesto. The pesto will stick to the pasta better if it’s still a little bit on the warmer side.
Feel free to use a different pasta shape. Penne and farfalle pasta work great for this pesto pasta salad as well.
Some cooked peas, sautéed asparagus, green onions, toasted nuts, corn, chickpeas, or even some arugula would make for a nice addition to the pesto pasta salad.
If you have making this ahead of time, make sure you are placing them into an airtight container in the fridge for the best results. The salad should last for up to 3 to 4 days. You could also dress the pasta and hold off on adding the vegetables until the day of.
You sure can! Shredded chicken, shredded cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella balls, and more can be added to this pesto pasta salad!
You can use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand! Basil is my next go-to.
More Recipes You Might Like
If you’re looking for more recipes like this pesto pasta salad, try these ones:
- Vegan Olive Pesto Flatbread
- Beet Green Pesto Zoodles
- Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Pasta Salad
- Grilled Avocado & Watermelon Salad
- Vegan Grilled Broccoli, Carrots & Avocado Salad
Lovelies, I would love to know what YOU put in your pesto!
Pesto Pasta Salad with Parsley and Pistachios (Vegan)
- 2 cups flat Italian parsley leaves
- ½ cup shelled pistachios
- 2 small cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ c olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp Za’atar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb gluten free or whole wheat pasta cooked
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ¼ cup thinly sliced cucumber
- ½ cup snap peas sliced
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives sliced
- ¼ cup pomegranate arils
- Combine the parsley, pistachios, garlic, nutritional yeast in a food processor and puree until smooth. Then add the olive oil, lemon juice, za’atar and salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss with cooked pasta and salad veggies, olives and pomegranate arils. Enjoy at room temperature.
- Be sure to cook your pasta in a pot of salted water.
- Don’t let the pasta cool too much before tossing the pasta in the pesto. The pesto will stick to the pasta better if it’s still a little bit on the warmer side.
- Feel free to use a different pasta shape. Penne and farfalle pasta work great for this pesto pasta salad as well.
Updated on July 21st, 2021
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.