Pesto Pasta Salad

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Nothing says “summer” quite like a pasta salad. This pesto pasta salad will have you eating your dinner on a picnic blanket. Plus, it can be enjoyed both warm and cold so it’s appropriate for real picnics too!

I used to order a similar dish from a healthy-ish fast food restaurant in Toronto called Freshii. I was surprised that I had never thought of mixing this combination of ingredients together since the result is “out-of-this-world” delicious. This pasta salad has since become a staple in our house.

This recipe uses brown rice noodles and is packed with lots of veggies. It is a tasty vegetarian option, but you can also top it with chicken or fish. It can be made vegan if you omit the feta cheese and use a vegan pesto. You can also toss in some of my Crispy Chickpeas for a little extra protein.

What you’ll need:

  • Brown rice pasta – any shape!
  • Basil pesto
  • Spinach
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Kalamata olives
  • Feta, parmesan or your favourite cheese

How to make Pesto Pasta Salad

This is one of the easiest recipes that I have in my repertoire. Once you have cooked the pasta, it literally takes 5 minutes to make.

First, add the spinach and basil pesto to the freshly cooked pasta (it’s best if it is still HOT). Allow the spinach to wilt while covering the pot or bowl. Once the spinach in wilted (this takes about 2 minutes), add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.

That’s it! Seriously.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings as a side dish, or 2 servings as a meal.

Close-up of pesto pasta salad with brown rice pasta, pesto, spinach, tomatoes and olives.


This pasta salad recipe stays fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days. Brown rice pasta will sometimes dry out in the fridge as it quickly absorbs moisture. If consuming later, reheat your leftovers in the microwave with a teaspoon or two of pesto or olive oil – even if just for a few seconds.

Don’t forget to pack this for your next picnic, BBQ or pool party – it is sure to be a hit.

As always, if you have any questions, comments or substitutions that you have tried, please leave a comment on this post. And don’t forget to rate this recipe. I would love to hear how you enjoyed your pesto pasta salad!

White plate filled with pasta salad - including brown rice pasta, pesto, spinach, tomatoes and black olives - with a fork on the top right.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Becca Harris, RD, MHSc
Naturally gluten-free & vegetarian.
This pesto pasta salad is a great vegetarian alternative and only takes 5 minutes to make. It is the perfect dish for your next BBQ or picnic as it can be served either warm or cold.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 2
Calories 590 kcal


  • 2 cups brown rice pasta, cooked any shape!
  • ¼ cup basil pesto
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2-3 tbsp kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese optional


  • Mix freshly cooked pasta (must still be warm), pesto and spinach. Allow ingredients to sit while covered for 2 minutes while spinach wilts.
  • Add tomatoes, olives and feta cheese. Mix until well combined.
  • Enjoy!


Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Brown rice pasta will sometimes dry out as it absorbs some of the moisture. Reheat your leftovers in the microwave with a teaspoon or two of pesto or olive oil – even if just for a few seconds.
Keyword easy recipe, gluten-free, healthy bowl, plant-based, quick, vegetarian

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The Nutrition Junky