This pesto pasta salad is loaded with fresh asparagus, spinach and peas. Add some chicken, pesto, and ziti and you get a summer-fresh pasta salad that is ready in 30 minutes.
Pesto pasta salad with all the green veggies tossed together with pesto, pasta, and rotisserie chicken because it’s summer and if we don’t have to turn on the oven that is a very good thing.
Technically, it’s a side dish but there’s no reason you can’t serve it as a main dish for dinner or lunch. There are probably rules about these things to which I say, “break ’em”. It’s summer – serve it for breakfast if you want. It’s all good.
So, let’s talk about it…
- Thin asparagus
- Lemon zest and juice
- Frozen peas
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh spinach
- Shredded rotisserie chicken
For the pesto, you can use homemade or store-bought. You will need one cup so if you use my pesto (linked above in the list) you will need to add an extra 1/4 cup of olive oil to stretch it for this recipe.
For the chicken, you could omit it and double up on the asparagus for a vegetarian experience. It also feels more side-dishy that way.
About the salt. I don’t add additional salt because the chicken is already seasoned and the pesto plus the extra parm adds salt. You can always add some extra salt if you think it needs it.
How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad
- Boil the ziti. One minute before it’s done add the asparagus. They will cook just a little bit so they are still crisp but tender. Drain the ziti and asparagus.
- I like to cool the pasta to room temperature before tossing it with everything else. Just spread it out on a baking sheet and it will cool off in about five minutes or so.
- Prepare the pesto (or open the container- yas) and pour it into a large bowl. Add all of the ingredients and toss, toss, toss until everything is evenly coated in the pesto. And, yes, you can add the frozen peas as is. They will thaw while you are tossing the salad together – no need to thaw them ahead of time.
I prefer this pasta salad at room temperature soon after it’s made. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days, but it tends to dry out because the ziti will absorb the pesto. So, toss it with a little extra pesto or olive oil if it needs it.
Summery, light and full of green goodness. No matter when you serve it, this pesto pasta salad is delicious.
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This pesto pasta salad is loaded with fresh veggies like asparagus, spinach and peas. Add some chicken, pesto and pasta and you get a summer-fresh pasta salad that is ready in 30 minutes.
- 8 ounces ziti
- 10 ounces thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces (see note)
- 1 cup (8-oz) pesto
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 cup frozen peas (see note)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- 3 cups spinach, chopped
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (see note)
- Boil the pasta following package directions. In the last two minutes, add the asparagus. Drain the pasta and asparagus and spread them out on a baking sheet to cool to room temperature.
- In a big bowl, toss the pesto with all of the ingredients. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese, if you like.
- I think this salad tastes best at room temperature. Leftovers will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but the pasta will absorb the pesto so the salad might be a little dry. You can add a little more pesto or olive oil to refresh it.
If you use thick asparagus you should cook them a few extra minutes. For the peas, you don’t need to thaw them first. They will thaw quickly as you toss the salad together.
If you want to omit the chicken just double up on the asparagus for a vegetarian pasta salad. You might want to add some additional salt if you do this.
The nutrition estimate doesn’t include the extra Parmesan cheese for the garnish.
- Category: Salads
- Method: Toss
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 437
- Sugar: 4.1g
- Sodium: 536.7mg
- Fat: 22.1g
- Saturated Fat: 4.6g
- Unsaturated Fat: 16g
- Trans Fat: 0.1g
- Carbohydrates: 26.9g
- Fiber: 4.3g
- Protein: 22.6g
- Cholesterol: 37.4mg
Keywords: pesto pasta salad, chicken pasta salad
The nutrition information in this recipe is an estimate only and was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.