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Healthy Pesto Pasta With Vegetables

Pesto pasta with vegetables is a simple, healthy side or main dish made with pasta, pesto, spinach, green beans and tomatoes. Packed with flavor and ready in 20 minutes.

I like this hearty pasta warm, but room temperature is good too.

pesto pasta with veggies in bowl with tomatoes beside it

Needless to say, you can choose your preferred veggies. The recipe is versatile and it’s quick to make even if you choose to make your own pesto. 

I use our 5 minute classic basil pesto recipe for this pasta salad, but if you have another favorite – even a store bought pesto – feel free to use that.

Bottom line: Pesto pasta with vegetables is an easy recipe and a great way to use up that extra basil in the garden. Full of flavor, healthy and a good make-ahead recipe for a potluck or buffet.

What to serve with this pesto veggie pasta

This dish can stand on its own as a vegetarian main dish. You can also bulk it up with extra protein by adding tofu, cooked chicken or shrimp. Or serve it with a soup like easy butternut squash soup, curried lentil soup (instant pot) or a cold gazpacho on a hot summer day.

As a side dish, I like it with sous vide lamb chops, juicy grilled pork chops, sweet and spicy salmon or Mediterranean-style marinated chicken.

Tailor to your Taste

This recipe is super versatile. Here are a few variations and substitutions you can try.

  • Pesto options: If you don’t like basil pesto, try spinach, arugula, kale, parsley or cilantro pesto.
  • Pasta: My go-to for this recipe is orzo pasta, but any small regular pasta in various pasta shapes will work – baby penne, small fusilli, baby bow ties, etc.
  • Vegetable options: Choose your preferred fresh vegetables. Try spring vegetables like beans, asparagus and spinach or summer vegetables like baby kale, bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. Or just use your favorites if they are available at your local grocery store. Be sure to adjust the cooking time for the type of vegetable you’re using.
  • Cheese: I like to crumble on goat cheese or ricotta as a garnish. Other options are feta, grated Parmesan cheese or no cheese at all. Vegans can use nutritional yeast to make a vegan pesto sauce or as an add-in.
  • Add-ins: Add chopped pitted black olives, sundried tomatoes, chopped green onions or matchstick radishes for some crunch.

How to make veggie pesto pasta

pesto, orzo, tomatoes, beans, spinach, lime, goat cheese
Ingredients: orzo (or other small pasta), pesto, green beans, cherry tomatoes, ricotta or goat cheese for garnish. Lime or lemon.
orzo and beans boiling in pot
Boil pasta according to package directions. Add green beans in last 5 minutes of cooking.
orzo and veggies in mixing bowl
Drain, put into a medium bowl or back into the same pot and add spinach to wilt slightly.
pasta pesto and veggies in bowl
Add pesto, tomatoes, a little oil oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine well.
pesto pasta with veggies in bowl with basil
Add cheese if desired and serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with fresh basil leaves if you like.
pesto pasta with veggies in bowl p

FAQ about pesto

What is pesto?

Pesto is a thick green sauce made from a herb (usually basil), garlic, olive oil, pine nuts (or walnuts) and parmesan cheese. It originates from Italy. Use it with pastas, as a topping for fish, burgers, veggies or grilled cheese, as a dressing for a panzanella (bread salad) and on pizza.

Is pesto healthy?

According to healthline, pesto has some good nutritional benefits. Although it is high in fat and calories (cheese, nuts, oil), most of the fat is the good kind of unsaturated fat. It may help reduce your blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and cancer risk

Can I make a vegan pesto recipe?

Absolutely. Use the same ingredients – basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, salt, lemon juice – and substitute nutritional yeast for the Parmesan cheese.

Shortcut

  • Use a good store bought fresh pesto. Jenna loves the one at Costco.

Make Ahead

  • The pesto orzo can be served at room temperature. Or make it ahead then rewarm for a couple of minutes in the microwave. If you prefer, add the cheese after it has been warmed.
  • Pesto will last for a week or two in the fridge. Or it can be frozen.
pesto pasta with veggies in bowl with tomatoes beside it
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Rate this recipe here

4.55 from 35 votes

Pesto Orzo and Vegetables

A taste of summer, Pesto Orzo and Vegetables is a super flavorful, healthy dish with pesto, spinach, green beans and tomatoes. Ready in 20 minutes.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: main, sides
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 4
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orzo
  • large handful green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cup baby spinach or kale, roughly chopped
  • 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoon pesto, bought or homemade (Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 2 tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: splash of lemon or lime juice
  • Garnish: goat cheese and/or Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • BOIL ORZO AND GREEN BEANS: In a medium pot, bring water with a tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add orzo and boil for 5 minutes. Add green beans. Continue boiling for about 5 more minutes until orzo is soft and beans are tender, but both should still have a bit of 'bite' (al dente). Drain well, then add back to pot.
  • FINISH THE DISH: Add chopped spinach to orzo in pot and toss well until slightly wilted. Add tomatoes, pesto and enough oil to achieve the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. And mix in a squeeze of lemon or lime juice if you like. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with goat cheese and/or Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
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Notes

  1. Pesto: Use any pesto you like or our Classic Basil Pesto recipe: Process in food processor until smooth: 1 cup packed Basil leaves, 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/4 olive oil. (makes 1/2 cup)
  2. Make Ahead: Great served at room temperature. Or make ahead then rewarm for a couple of minutes in the microwave. If you prefer, add the cheese after it has been warmed.  
 
Nutrition values are estimates and do not include garnishes. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Pesto Orzo and Vegetables
Amount Per Serving (0 g)
Calories 235 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 1mg0%
Sodium 422mg18%
Potassium 362mg10%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 2740IU55%
Vitamin C 19mg23%
Calcium 63mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!
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This recipe was previously published in 2017. We’re re-publishing it again with edits and new information.

3 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    This was absolutely delicious and super easy to make! If you would like to add some protein, you could always add chicken.

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