Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe with Asparagus


This easy Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad recipe with Asparagus and Arugula is the perfect cold make-ahead salad for picnics and spring or summer gatherings. It can easily be made vegan and gluten-free. 

side view of a big platter with pistachio pesto pasta salad

Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad – the perfect make-ahead salad for springtime entertaining! 

Coming at you with the dish you’re gonna want to eat morning, noon and night this spring. Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad with Asparagus! Guys, I’m not always a fan of pasta salad because they tend to be heavy on the mayo…but covered in homemade pesto?! I’m in! 

side view of a platter with pasta salad tossed with pistachio pesto and sauteed asparagus

You could call this a salad, but I would actually call this an entire meal. You got your carbs, your healthy fats, your veg, your plant-based protein.

This Spring-themed Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad recipe is absolutely perfect for picnics,  garden parties, or just your average meatless weekday office lunch. It’s loaded with homemade Sicilian pistachio pesto, arugula, cocktail tomatoes,  parmesan cheese, and more pistachios, and lots and lots of pasta. That sure does scream springtime to me!!

overhead shot of a white plate with pistachio pesto pasta salad with asparagus and parmesan

Sauteed Green Asparagus takes this easy spring pasta salad to the next level.

As we just got the most gorgeous green asparagus at the farmer’s market, I added a whole bunch to this. You could eat it raw but I like sautéed asparagus. What I used for a 6 serving bowl of salad, is basically a pound of asparagus. I trimmed off the ends, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and sautéed it in some olive oil over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook just until crisp-tender, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes.

close-up of a serving of pistachio pesto pasta salad with tomatoes and asparagus

Variations for this salad recipe: 

I plan on eating pistachio pesto all year long but I do realize that asparagus is kind of seasonal produce:  But really, you can add about any sautéed, roasted, or fresh veg to this.  Some other delicious ideas for add-ins could include: 

  • broccoli or broccolini
  • roasted carrots
  • oven-roasted Brussels sprouts
  • roasted cauliflower
  • chickpeas
  • cherry tomatoes (fresh or blistered)
  • peas
  • sauteed red onions
  • grilled red bell peppers
  • grilled zucchini

a fork digging into a plate with pistachio pesto pasta salad

How to store Pasta Salad: 

You should store this in a sealed container. The pesto contains garlic and you want to make sure it doesn’t make your whole fridge smell like an Italian restaurant kitchen, so seal that container well. It should be good for 4 days. 

side view of a plate of pesto pasta salad with homemade pistachio pesto, parmesan and asparagus

Can I make this Pasta Salad recipe vegan? 

Absolutely! Just head over to my pistachio pesto recipe and follow the instruction for making vegan pesto. It’s as easy as swapping nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese in the pesto recipe. Skip the parmesan shavings in the salad. 

close up of rotini pasta tossed in pistachio pesto

Tips for making this pasta salad:

  • For this recipe, I used my homemade pistachio pesto recipe. You only need no make half the amount but I’d go ahead and make a big batch and use the rest for salad dressings. 
  • Sautee the asparagus: I trimmed off the ends, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and sautéed it in some olive oil over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and sautee just until crisp-tender, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes. You could also grill the asparagus until nice and charred. 
  • Take the pesto out of the fridge to let it warm up making it easier when you toss it. If you make it fresh, you’re golden.
  • Add a tiny splash of pasta water to the bowl, should you feel the pasta salad doesn’t come together that easily. 
  • The pasta can be made the day before and stored in the fridge. Make sure to try it again before serving. Pasta soaks up a lot of liquid. YOu might want to add some liquid. I like to stir together some honey, olive oil, and white balsamico and add that.
  • Change it up: Add any of the veggies I listed above. As for the pesto, you can use walnuts, almonds, pine nuts or macadamias in the pesto instead of the pistachios. Or go nut-free and use pepitas.
  • Make this GLUTEN-FREE by using your favorite gluten-free pasta.
  • Turn it DAIRY FREE/VEGAN by skipping the parmesan cheese!

Did you make and love this pesto pasta salad recipe? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!

5 from 1 vote
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Pistachio Pesto Salad Recipe

This easy Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad recipe with Asparagus and Arugula is the perfect cold make-ahead salad for picnics and summer gatherings.

Course Main Course, side
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword pasta salad with asparagus, pasta salad with pesto, pesto pasta salad recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 490 kcal
Author Kiki Johnson

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked rotini pasta I used rotini
  • 2 -3 cups sautéed asparagus see notes - from about 1 small bunch
  • 3 large handfuls fresh baby arugula
  • parmesan shavings
  • 1/4 cup roasted and salted pistachios shelled
  • 2 cups cocktail tomatoes
  • 1/2 batch pistachio pesto see notes, or traditional pesto
  • Lemon juice about half a big lemon
  • salt and pepper pepper
  • honey or maple syrup optional

Instructions

  1. Cook your rotini pasta in a large pot with generously-salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta in a strainer, reserving some liquid in case you need to add some when tossing, then rinse pasta well with cold water until it is chilled. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.

  2. Combine cooled pasta, sauteed asparagus, arugula, halved tomatoes, cheese shavings, pistachios and pistachio pesto in a large mixing bowl. Squeeze in some lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. I sometimes stir some maple syrup into the lemon juice to round it all up. Toss until evenly combined.

    Add a tiny splash of pasta water to the bowl, should you feel the pasta salad doesn't come together that easily. 

  3. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes

  • For this recipe, I used my homemade pistachio pesto recipe. You only need no make half the amount but I'd go ahead and make a big batch and use the rest for salad dressings. 
  • Sautee the asparagus: I trimmed off the ends, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and sautéed it in some olive oil over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and sautee just until crisp-tender, which takes about 3 to 4 minutes. You could also grill the asparagus until nice and charred. 
  • Take the pesto out of the fridge to let it warm up making it easier when you toss it. If you make it fresh, you're golden.
  • Add a tiny splash of pasta water to the bowl, should you feel the pasta salad doesn't come together that easily. 
  • The pasta can be made the day before and stored in the fridge. Make sure to try it again before serving. Pasta soaks up a lot of liquid. YOu might want to add some liquid. I like to stir together some honey, olive oil, and white balsamico and add that.
  • The pasta can be made the day before and stored in the fridge. 
  • Change it up: Add any of the veggies I listed above. As for the pesto, you can use walnuts, almonds, pine nuts or macadamias in the pesto instead of the pistachios. Or go nut-free and use pepitas.
  • Make this GLUTEN-FREE by using your favorite gluten-free pasta.
  • Turn it DAIRY FREE/VEGAN by skipping the parmesan cheese!

 

 

 


One Comment


  1. This is seriously delicious and the pesto is also so awesome for sandwiches!

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