Try This Easy Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad

This pesto pasta salad is quick and easy to make


2 Minutes Read

Vegan orzo pesto pasta salad Pasta salads are perfect for spring - Media Credit: Nuts & Twigs

Spring has finally arrived, meaning it’s officially pasta salad season. Pasta salads are a hugely popular meal when the weather gets warmer, as they tend to be served cold and packed with a wide variety of fresh ingredients.

Read more: 10 Vegan Sandwich Ideas

A pasta salad describes any dish that mixes pasta with vegetables and fruits. They’re versatile, comforting, tasty and often pretty healthy too.

The below recipe, which comes from Nuts & Twigs, uses orzo pasta, a type of small pasta that slightly resembles a grain of rice. Orzo is popular in pasta salads for several reasons. Its small shape makes it an ideal base for salads as it mixes well with other ingredients without overwhelming them, ensuring a balanced bite every time. This shape allows it to blend seamlessly with a diverse range of salad components, providing texture and substance while still absorbing flavors effectively.

Read more: Try This Easy Quinoa And Edamame Salad

Additionally, orzo tends to have a slightly chewy texture when cooked al dente, which adds a satisfying mouthfeel to salads. Its ability to hold up well after cooking and not turn mushy quickly makes it particularly suitable for making ahead, as it can maintain its texture and flavor integrity even after being dressed for several hours or stored in the refrigerator.

Orzo pasta salad

This orzo pasta salad is a vegan favorite, showcasing perfectly cooked orzo mixed with pesto. It's a simple yet satisfying dish, ideal for anyone looking for a tasty, refreshing, plant-based option.
Vegan orzo pesto pasta salad
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Duration30 mins
Servings4 cups


  • 1 ½ cup orzo pasta
  • ¾ – 1  cup vegan pesto
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½  tsp salt
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups spinach (substitute with arugula)
  • 10 ounces asparagus, chopped
  • Lemon juice and zest from one lemon
For garnish (optional)
  • Vegan feta
  • Basil leaves
  • Sunflower seeds


Prepare the asparagus

  • Rinse the asparagus under cold water to clean it, snap off the tough bottom ends by bending them until they break naturally (usually about the last inch or so), and then chop them into one-inch pieces.
  •  Place them on a baking sheet and coat them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper (or any other seasonings you may want).
  • Bake in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 12-15 minutes or in the air fryer at the same temperature for 4-5 minutes. 
  • Air fryers vary, so check often so they don't overcook.

Cook the orzo

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package instructions, usually about 8-10 minutes, until it's al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Drain the orzo and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Drizzling a little olive oil and tossing it can prevent it from clumping as it cools.
  • Prepare The Orzo Bowl
  • Place the spinach, tomatoes, roasted asparagus, and lemon juice, and zest in a large bowl. 
  • Then, add the cooked orzo and pesto to the bowl.
  • Start with ¾ cup of pesto, adding more to suit your taste.
  • The warmth of the orzo will help the pesto coat evenly and slightly wilt the greens, making them tender.

Adjust Seasonings

  • Taste your pesto orzo and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, or even a squeeze of lemon juice if you feel it needs more acidity.


  • This dish can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold, making it incredibly versatile.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves, vegan feta, or a sprinkle of toasted sunflower seeds for a delightful crunch.

This recipe was republished with permission from Regina Pearce (of Nuts & Twigs). You can view the original recipe here.

Read more: 9 Gut-Friendly Recipes Featuring Fermented Foods

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