Pesto Pasta Salad

close-up overhead photo of pasta salad

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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)


  1. 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.
  2. In a big bowl, toss the pesto with all of the ingredients. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese, if you like.
  3. 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.