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PESTO PASTA WITH VEGETABLES
This Pesto Pasta with Vegetables, also known as pesto primavera, is the perfect light dish to enjoy for lunch or dinner. Plus, you get to choose any vegetables of your choice to throw in the mix! Try pairing this pasta with a protein like chicken, shrimp, or chickpeas to round out the meal.
Pesto Veggie Pasta
Rotini pasta joins sauteed vegetables including zucchini, summer squash, sweet corn, and cherry tomatoes, seasoned with a robust Montreal seasoning blend, then homemade basil pesto and salty pasta cooking water are swirled in to create a light and silky sauce. I am obsessed with adding pasta cooking water to pasta dishes – including this pesto pasta. The starch in the pasta cooking water mixes with the pesto allowing it to cling to every single swirl of the rotini.
This gluten free, vegetarian pesto pasta dish is garlicky, super fast, and so so good. We will be making and eating all spring and summer long!
How do you make pesto pasta with vegetables?
I’ve got good news for you. This recipe is as easy as it sounds! Simply combine pasta with fresh veg and pesto. Here’s how:
- Cook your pasta. Cook according to the packager depending on what type of pasta you use.
- Quickly sauté your veggies. You can add raw veggies but I like to soften them with a quick sauté for 3-4 minutes.
- Combine with pesto. Then, add everything into one pot and add over the delicious pesto. Bonus points for making your own pesto sauce.
Is this dish healthy?
Absolutely! This penne pesto is filled with a variety of colorful vegetables. And as a dietitian, I’m always telling people to “eat the rainbow” because all these different colors represent all kinds of nutrients that keep us healthy.
While pasta can definitely be part of a balanced diet, I often like to swap regular pasta for chickpea pasta. Chickpea pasta cooks and tastes just like regular pasta, but is loaded with extra protein and fiber. In fact, when comparing 2 ounce servings, chickpea pasta has double the amount of protein or regular pasta. This protein promotes muscle recovery and allows us to feel fuller longer.
Pesto Sauce is KEY
One recipe of my homemade pesto sauce coats these noodles and veggies nicely. It makes everything stick together and gives it a nice fresh flavor, without overwhelming it. Like I’ve mentioned before, I keep small containers of pesto sauce in my freezer for meals like this. Because sometimes I want something quick but healthy at the same time. For all you working parents, this advance preparation will make your lives so much easier.
The next time I make this, I’m going to add some chicken or another lean protein. You could also add even more veg and less pasta if you want. Or more pasta and less veg. You do you!
- 8 ounces pasta of your choice (I prefer using chickpea pasta for extra protein but you can also use regular pasta, cauliflower pasta, brown rice pasta, or lentil pasta)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 cups quick cooking vegetables of your choice, chopped into small pieces (I recommend using a mixture of various vegetables to fill the 5 cups total such as corn, bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, broccoli, carrots, peas, and asparagus)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup pesto
- 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1 small lemon, juiced (about 1 tablespoon)
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Once cooked, reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and place it back into the pot.
- While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add vegetables and saute for 3-4 minutes until slightly softened. Then, remove pan from the heat and stir in garlic and Italian seasoning.
- Add cooked pasta over vegetables. Toss everything with pesto, parmesan cheese, and lemon juice. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add the reserved pasta water and toss once again.
- Serve pasta with more parmesan cheese on top, if desired.
- Pro tip #1: Make the pesto sauce in advance and store in refrigerator.
- Pro tip #2: Spiralize the veggies in advance and store in refrigerator.
- For best results, use my homemade pesto recipe.
- You can bulk up this recipe by using more spiralized veggies and less angel hair pasta.
- Be careful to avoid over-cooking the veggies.
Is there any dip better than pesto? Maybe hummus! But pesto is definitely a favorite of mine!
It’s traditionally made with basil leaves, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, fresh garlic and a good quality olive oil.
Some folks love to toast their pine nuts before adding them to the blender or food processor, but either way – it’s delish!
It’s super easy to make – pulse or blend all the ingredients together except the olive oil. Once everything looks finely minced and combined, slowly add the olive oil as you blend it all together.
In this recipe, I did less olive oil than I typically would to keep it thick. Plus, there’s extra oil in the casserole dish for roasting the veggies, but if you prefer your pesto thinner, add more oil!
Customize with any vegetables and pasta of your choice
Like all of my other recipes, this pesto pasta is completely customizable. You get to choose what veggies you want to use.
Just be sure to stick with quick-cooking vegetables and avoid tougher vegetables like potatoes, beets, and squash. Before you throw veggies into the pan, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Mix and match any of the following to fill your 5 cups of veggies:
- Bell peppers – any color
- Cherry tomatoes
- Yellow squash
You also get to choose any pasta of your choice. You can use regular pasta or other types like chickpea pasta, cauliflower pasta, brown rice pasta, or lentil pasta. I tend to like using chickpea pasta because it packs in more protein and fiber.
When it comes to the actual shape of the pasta, try using penne, spirals, or bowties or any other shape you’d like!
What should I serve this pesto primavera with?
Try pairing this pasta with a protein like chicken, shrimp, or chickpeas to round out the meal. If you’re using chickpea pasta, it already has a lot of protein so you probably don’t need to add anything extra on top.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
Can I use store-bought pesto?
Definitely! The recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto, so as long as you substitute 1 cup of store-bought pesto, you should be good to go!
What if my squash are smaller and don’t get the full amount as you used in the recipe?
No problem! If you have to use smaller squash, you’ll need to use a few to get enough veggies. But if you still have about half the amounts listed, you can still follow the recipe as is. The roasting time will just be about 20 minutes shorter.
Basil Pesto Pasta with Grilled Vegetables
This dish is an easy way to turn grilled vegetables into a satisfying meal, thanks to hearty whole-grain pasta and a quick homemade pesto.