An easy and healthy pasta salad recipe with pesto and Italian flavor. This high protein pasta salad is so easy to fall in love with this summer.
I discovered pesto a few years ago (I know, I lived under a rock before) and it is one of my favorite things. Garlic + Basil is always a winning combination in my book…I guess I have a soft spot for Italian food.
It’s actually more like a gigantic soft spot. Give me a plate of pasta, some garlic cheesy bread and I am a happy camper.
How can pasta salad be healthy?
I’ve found that I can still enjoy pasta while focusing on healthy eating by keeping two things in mind:
- Portion size – I like to use a measuring cup and forgo estimating when it comes to pasta. I always am more generous!
- Whole wheat pasta – This is readily available at most stores. Whole wheat pasta is more nutrient dense than regular white pasta and I personally enjoy the flavor more!
- Light on the cheese, heavy on the vegetables – Whether I puree some fresh spinach to throw into a marinara sauce or add in chunks of onions and bell peppers, I always try to add some extra vegetables to my pasta dishes! In most traditional recipes I go light on the cheese as well. I can normally halve the amount and still get the same flavor and satisfaction.
Pasta salad is a staple at summer gatherings and this Pesto Pasta Salad is a delicious Italian twist on classic pasta salad.
Ingredients in this Healthy Pesto Pasta Salad
- Using pre-made pesto sauce makes this recipe easy-peasy, although if you are feeling very Martha Stewart it is really simple to whip up some pesto! (Here is a great pesto recipe!)
- I love using turkey pepperoni to lighten up my Italian recipes, homemade pizza, and deli style sandwiches–it’s such a great alternate to normal greasy pepperoni.
- Adding in fresh bell pepper makes this salad pop and provides a healthy dose of veggies and color to this simple pasta salad! You could easily add in more veggies with mushrooms and cherry roasted tomatoes.
Healthy Pasta Salad
- 14 ounces box uncooked high protein pasta
- 4 ounces prepared pesto
- 6 ounces turkey pepperoni sliced
- 2 cups chopped bell pepper, I used green and yellow bell peppers
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, cut in small cubes or shredded
- 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- Prepare pasta according to the box directions.
- Drain and rinse in cool water.
- Return to pan and add pepperoni, pesto, and bell pepper. Stir in mozzarella cheese.
- Refrigerate 2-3 hours to allow flavors to blend. Serve cold with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Add in mushrooms and cherry tomatoes for more vegetables.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 278Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 712mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 17g
I hope you will love this pesto pasta salad as much as I do!
I kind of had to take it away, lest I consume the whole thing in one ginormous sitting. Portion size definitely matters when eating healthy!
I love create delicious recipes like this using whole ingredients and high protein– no food is “off limits” just keep your portion sizes in mind.
Pesto Pasta Salad – Whole grains, fresh veggies, delicious pesto make it the perfect healthy side for summer!
Have a terrific Tuesday! I’m off this morning to hunt a some kind of dresser, buffet, etc. to be our new T.V. stand–wish me the luck of Jojo Gaines. 😉
Family camp also started this week and so we are enjoying all the camp amenities like a toddler class in the morning and kid-free dinners twice a week. It’s always hectic work-wise for Nate the first week, but we like to take little snatches and get away when we can, so this morning it’s a thrifty date!
Hope your week is going well too!
What is your go-to dish at a picnic or barbecue?