This Pasta Salad has got to be the easiest pasta recipe I make. Super easy, my Pesto Parmesan Pasta Salad recipe has only a handful of ingredients and is made in one pot. Boiling the water and cutting the cherry tomatoes in half are probably the most difficult tasks. This is a super healthy Pasta Salad with whole wheat pasta, Parmesan cheese, pesto, broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach, tossed with a quick and easy Pasta Salad Dressing made of lemon juice and olive oil.
I like this pasta salad all year round, the ingredients are readily available in the grocery stores during any season. So please don’t think you can only do Pasta Salads in summer.
You’re going to love my Pesto Parmesan Pasta Salad:
- It’s a quick and easy weeknight dinner option served hot. With tons of great leftovers!
- It’s a great meal prep recipe, as a cold side with a sandwich for school or work lunches
- It’s great for potlucks, picnics, and cookouts
- Leftovers galore! Pasta Salad is my blood sugar crash go-to for a pick me up, there’s pretty much nothing better than leftover Pasta Salad!
- Seriously, is there anything my Pesto Parmesan Pasta salad can’t do?
Can my Pesto Parmesan Pasta Salad recipe be modified? Absolutely!
Pretty much the only requirements for this Pasta Salad are the pesto, Parmesan cheese, and pasta, the rest of the ingredients can be added to, subtracted or changed completely. I always use a shaped pasta, something with a lot of nooks and crannies to hold onto the pesto and Pasta Salad Dressing, nothing worse than a dry Pasta Salad! Cook the pasta for the shortest amount of time the manufacturer suggests, you want the pasta al dente as it will continue to absorb moisture in the refrigerator. If you cook the pasta too long, it will be mushy after one or two days.
- Please, please, please experiment with this recipe! I love to make it with fresh asparagus, arugula, olives, roast chicken, pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, etc. etc. Any combination of ingredients you can think of in a pasta dish or even as a pizza topping will be amazing in a pasta salad.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, my Pesto Parmesan Pasta Salad is a regular thing at our house.
Here is my Pesto Parmesan Pasta Salad recipe:
- 1 Pound Shaped Pasta like Fusilli or Rotini (preferably whole wheat)
- 4-5 Cups Fresh Broccoli Florets (one head broccoli)
- 2 Cups Cherry Tomatoes halved
- 5 Ounces Fresh Baby Spinach
- ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Cup Pesto Sauce
- ½ Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Lemon, Zest, and Juice
- ½ Cup Olive Oil
- Garnish with Chopped Fresh Parsley and additional Parmesan cheese
-Set aside pasta, broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach
-Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl, mix well to create the dressing, add spinach and tomatoes, toss to coat
-Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt well, it should taste like the ocean
-Add pasta, cook according to manufacturer’s instructions (COOK AL DENTE)
-Add the broccoli to the pasta water at the last minute of cooking. Cook for one minute. Drain the pasta and broccoli, and add to the dressing. Toss well. The heat from the pasta and broccoli will cook the tomatoes and wilt the spinach. The hot pasta will absorb the dressing.
-Refrigerate, overnight is best
-Garnish with chopped fresh parsley
NOTE: Some pasta will absorb more moisture than others. If dry, make another small amount of Pasta Salad dressing:
- ¼ Cup Olive Oil
- 1 Lemon, juice only