This vegan pesto pasta salad recipe is a quick and easy weeknight meal that is ready in under 30 minutes! This pasta is tasty, fast, and protein-packed, but it doesn’t stop there. It also offers dozens of additional nutrients.
Especially when it is coated in a rich and creamy pesto sauce and is packed with protein – something most pasta dishes are lacking. Especially when it takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. We know you are busy and sometimes you need a gourmet meal on your plate STAT. This pasta can get you there.
And when this dish can double as tomorrow’s lunch. This vegan pesto pasta recipe is equally good served cold the next day. The flavors intensify as it sits overnight in the fridge and it turns into the best cold pasta salad on day two.
The sauce in this vegan pesto pasta recipe salad is a hybrid between a creamy indulgent alfredo and a bright and fresh pesto sauce, and it is a match made in heaven. Especially when you can feel good about indulging in this cream sauce. It is made rich and flavorful with only the freshest, healthiest ingredients.
In lieu of the cream, which can add unnecessary fat and calories to this dish, we look to a healthier plant-based alternative: tofu. Not a tofu lover? Stick with me. You will not have to eat cubes of the tasteless white soggy tofu that haunts your taste buds past. The tofu in this dish is blended until silky smooth and used in the sauce. It has no flavor, so it is ready to take on the flavors of the fresh basil, lively lemon, and deep garlic.
Not only is the tofu a healthy, guilt-free, swap, it adds satiating protein to this recipe.
Our second swap does the same thing – adds loads of protein. Instead of using regular white pasta, we switch it up by using green pea pasta. This type of pasta adds another 12 grams of protein per serving. This swap is one of the easiest ways to make any pasta dish a well-rounded meal.
If you can’t find green pea fusilli, you can look for any other bean-based pasta (red lentil, garbanzo, mung bean, etc.) or you can use easier to find whole wheat (if not gluten sensitive) or brown rice pasta. Both will result in a delicious pesto pasta.
The green peas that makeup the pasta are laded with noticeable amounts of 18 different nutrients including vitamin K, a spectrum of B vitamins, and lots of fiber. Vitamin K supports our bone and blood health. B vitamins help us produce energy and aids in a well functioning nervous system.
Basil adds additional vitamin K for bone and blood health, but also comes with its own set of benefits. Basil can protect our DNA from damage and acts as an antibacterial, killing off bad bacteria in the body. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory, keeping our bodies in tip-top shape.
Ingredients for the vegan pesto pasta recipe salad:
- 8 oz. green pea fusilli (can substitute whole wheat or brown rice)
- 12 oz silken tofu
- Juice from one lemon
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup packed basil
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 leaves kale
Directions to make the pesto pasta salad:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a big pinch of salt. Once the water is boiling, add in the pasta and stir. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking. Add the tofu, garlic, honey, salt and pepper into food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
- Add in the basil and process until the basil has been chopped up into fine pieces.
- Toss the pesto sauce with the pasta.
- Tear the leaves off of the kale and add them into a large bowl. Season with a big pinch of salt and passage the kale, scrunching it in your hands, until it is bright green and softened.
- Toss the kale and cherry tomatoes into the pasta. Serve.