Vegan Pasta Salad



This easy vegan pesto pasta salad is made with just three simple components: pasta, pesto and white beans. It can be served as a cold pesto pasta salad or warm – up to you!

I love a good pasta salad. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not just for picnics, backyard barbecues or even summer, in general! You can enjoy a good pasta salad year round, especially if it’s as easy as this one.

This vegan pesto pasta salad with white beans can be made a few different ways.

First, you can take a shortcut and use store-bought pesto, or you can make your own.

Homemade is actually pretty easy, and we’re sharing a ton of ways to customize homemade pesto with various produce items farther down in the post! But if you opt for store-bought instead, that’s 100% fine.

Second, you can add optional produce ingredients, like fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted zucchini or broccoli, olives, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. The list is endless.

Or, you can keep it super simple with a handful of fresh greens and some canned white beans. It’s easy, cheap, and so delicious!

However you make it, it’s the perfect easy pesto pasta salad for a busy weeknight or a nutritious make-ahead lunch.


Like we mentioned above, it’s perfectly fine to use store-bought pesto in this vegan pesto pasta salad. Gotham Greens makes a fantastic vegan pesto – we use it all the time!

However, if you have a wilting basil plant on your windowsill (no? just me?), homemade is a great way to go. Vegan pesto is super easy to make and can be customized with a wide range of ingredients!

To make homemade vegan pesto, grab your food processor and blend up the following ingredients:

Fresh basil
Pine nuts
Fresh garlic
Lemon juice (and zest – optional)
Nutritional yeast
Salt & pepper
Olive oil

That’s it! Just a head’s up: you’ll need quite a bit of fresh basil to make a full jar of pesto. Pulse everything together until it’s creamy, salty, lemony, herby and delicious.

Add a drizzle of pesto as a topping for this creamy cauliflower potato soup or homemade pizza. It’s also delicious on a panini, mixed into hummus, on top of these zucchini fritters or as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables. The possibilities are endless!

Basil and pine nuts can be expensive and difficult to find. Luckily, there are a number of excellent substitutions you can use for homemade pesto!

Spinach, arugula or kale: You need quite a bit of fresh basil to make homemade pesto. We almost always throw in a big handful of greens to cut down on the amount of basil. More cost effective and equally delicious!
Carrot tops: finally, a viable use for carrot tops! A great way to reduce food waste and try something new. Give this recipe a try.
Parsley: parsley is the best herb to substitute for basil. You can also do a combo of parsley and basil if you have both.

Walnuts: we didn’t have any pine nuts on hand while making this recipe, so we used walnuts instead! They have a distinctly nutty flavor and they’re incredibly nutritious, so they’re a great sub. You can sub walnuts 1:1 for pine nuts.
Pecans: similar to walnuts, pecans are a great substitution.
Pistachios: I LOVE pistachios in pesto. They’re probably my favorite option. We used them in this carrot top pesto.
Pumpkin seeds: pumpkin seeds aren’t as fatty as other nuts, so you may want to combine with another nut.
Hemp seeds: similar to pumpkin seeds, they don’t make a great 1:1 sub, but you can always throw in a handful in addition to other nuts and seeds!

Ramps: if you’re lucky enough to find ramps this spring, use them in pesto!! So good. Try this recipe!
Garlic powder: not ideal, but an okay alternative if you’re out of the fresh stuff.
Garlic free! If you’re sensitive to alliums, just leave out the garlic altogether.

easy vegan pesto pasta salad

This easy vegan pesto pasta salad is made with just three simple components: pasta, pesto and white beans. It can be served as a cold pesto pasta salad or warm – up to you!


Homemade vegan pesto*:

1 cup basil
2 cups spinach (kale or arugula work, too)
½ cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup olive oil
Pasta Salad:

8 oz pasta of choice, cooked
1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh greens (arugula, spinach, baby kale, etc)
Optional: more nuts for topping, vegan parmesan, etc.

In a food processor, pulse together all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly stream in olive oil while blending until you reach desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Pasta Salad:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
Add pasta to a large mixing bowl and toss with pesto, white beans and greens. Top with more chopped toasted walnuts or pine nuts, fresh herbs and greens and/or vegan parmesan.
Enjoy hot or cold!

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