This pesto pasta salad is easy to make and oil-free! Typical pesto is mostly oil (check out our why no oil? post) adding TONS of processed and unnecessary fat. With a few tweaks, you’ve got more bang (AKA nutrients) for your buck (AKA calories).
Eat the rainbow
A sure-fire way to know that you’ve got a mix of nutrients is to look for color. Not the color in Froot Loops, the color in REAL FOOD! This especially applies with fruits and veggies. All colors offer different nutrients, so by eating the rainbow we know we’re getting a healthy mix of vitamins.
We seem to know this without even thinking about it. Whenever someone shows up with a dish full of color (such as – one of my faves – a big bowl of fresh fruit) the response is “that’s beautiful” or “that looks delicious!”. It’s like the dish is screaming “Eat me!”
You’re guaranteed this reaction when you serve this colorful pasta salad. It’s pleasing to the eyes and the taste-buds. Also, with whole grains and veggies, it’s filling!
Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you’re feeding a smaller crowd. However, a big batch is recommended, as it does keep for up to a week in the refrigerator and the flavor get better every day!
We used this Food Processor to whip up the pesto. (Note this is an affiliate link.)
Plant-Based Pesto Pasta Salad
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 1/4 cup raw walnuts
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon, juiced or 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 block tofu, drained (8 oz) firm or extra-firm
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 12 oz whole grain pasta cooked per package instructions
- 1 cup broccoli, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup red onions, diced
- 1 cup bell pepper, diced yellow or orange
- Place all pesto ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth.2 cups fresh basil, 1/4 cup raw walnuts, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 5 garlic cloves, 1 lemon, juiced, 1/2 block tofu, drained (8 oz), 1/2 tsp salt, ground black pepper
- Cook pasta per package instructions. Drain.12 oz whole grain pasta
- Add all salad ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add pesto and mix until combine.1 cup broccoli, chopped, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered, 1 cup red onions, diced, 1 cup bell pepper, diced, 12 oz whole grain pasta
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving.