This summer vegetable pesto pasta recipe is loaded zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Use homemade pesto or store-bought for a dinner that comes together in less than 30 minutes. A light and healthy summer dinner.
Pesto Pasta with Summer Vegetables
Once the weather gets warmer, turning on the oven to cook dinner starts looking less appealing. Does anyone else avoid heating up their kitchen when it’s 90 degrees outside? If so, this is the quick and easy summer recipe you need! This pesto pasta comes together in less than 30 minutes (quicker if you use store-bought pesto!) and you don’t have to heat up the oven.
This pesto pasta is a light and healthy recipe perfect for warm summer weather. Plus, it’s a great way to take advantage of fresh seasonal summer produce like zucchini, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers.
Ingredients in this Pesto Pasta with Summer Vegetables
This pasta is quite simple to make and only requires a few ingredients. Here are the main ingredients in this pesto pasta recipe.
- Summer vegetables – this recipe calls for zucchini, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. You can use whatever seasonal veggies you have on hand. I just recommend using 4 cups of veggies per 8 oz of pasta.
- Pasta – I love Jovial brown rice noodles. I recommend a whole grain pasta or protein-rich pasta like chickpea or lentil pasta for a boost of protein.
- Pesto – I used my hemp seed pesto for this pasta (recipe below). It uses fresh basil, hemp seeds, olive oil, lemon, nutritional yeast (Parmesan), garlic, and sea salt. Fresh pesto adds so much flavor to a dish. If you’re looking for a guide on how to make your own pesto and different variations using your favorite nuts and seeds, I recommend checking out this detailed “how to make pesto” post.
What Vegetables Can I Use?
This recipe uses zucchini, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. However, feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand. I recommend using at least 4 cups of cut veggies for this recipe (excluding the onion). That being said, you can always add more if you’d like. Take advantage of your local farmer’s market and get creative with seasonal veggies. You really can’t go wrong.
- summer squash
- cherry tomatoes
- bell peppers
Can I Use Store-Bought Pesto?
Yes, using store-bought pesto is a great shortcut that will save you a few extra minutes making this recipe. I love Gotham Greens vegan pesto or Trader Joe’s vegan cashew pesto. You can use whatever pesto you’d like. However, make sure to read the ingredient list, especially if you’re looking for a dairy-free pesto since most have cheese.
How to Make Summer Vegetable Pesto Pasta?
In general, pasta recipes come together fairly quickly. This summer vegetable pesto pasta is no exception. Here’s how to streamline the cooking process so you can get dinner on the table in 30 minutes.
- Make the pesto – if you’re making your own pesto, this is your first step. This can be done up to a few days in advance, especially if you’re making a large batch of pesto to keep on hand. If you’re using store-bought pesto, skip this step.
- Boil pasta – bringing the pot of water to a boil, always seems like it takes the longest. Start by getting your pot of water ready so you’re not waiting around for your pasta to cook. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and follow the package instructions for cooking time. Make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Prep + Sautee veggies – chopping up the veggies is the most tedious part of this recipe. That being said, it only takes a few minutes. Try a chop the veggies so they’re roughly the same size. This will ensure they cook evenly. Add your chopped veggies to a large hot pan with a little olive oil. Add onion and saute for 5-10 minutes, or until your vegetables are tender.
- Toss it all together – the cooked pasta gets added to the large pan with the veggies. Add in the pesto and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. This helps thin out the pesto creating a sauce.
- Protein – to increase the protein in this dish, use chickpea or lentil pasta. Additionally, you can also add white beans, cooked chicken, or shrimp. Any of these options will make the pasta dish slightly more filling.
- Vegan – this pesto pasta recipe is naturally vegan since the pesto recipe doesn’t include cheese. If you’re not a fan of nutritional yeast, you can leave it out or use a vegan parmesan like Violife in the pesto and on top of the finished pasta.
- Dairy-free – this recipe is dairy-free. If you consume dairy, feel free to use cheese in the pesto recipe and top the pasta with fresh grated Parmesan.
- Gluten-free – if made with gluten-free noodles, this is a gluten-free pasta recipe. I made this using gluten-free brown rice noodles. Feel free to choose your favorite gluten-free noodles.
Other Healthy summer Recipes YOU might enjoy…
Summer Vegetable Pesto Pasta
This summer vegetable pesto pasta recipe is loaded zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, and bell peppers. A light and healthy summer pasta in less than 30 min. Feel free to use the recipe included for homemade pesto or save some time and use your favorite store-bought pesto.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
For the Pesto:
1 cup fresh basil
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon
1 ½ tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
For the Pasta:
½ tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow onion sliced
1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
1 small yellow summer squash, halved and sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces short pasta (fusilli, penne, farfalle, rigatoni, etc.)
¼ – ⅓ cup prepared basil pesto
For the Pesto: (skip this step if using store-bought pesto) Place garlic a food processor or blender and pulse until roughly chopped. Then add the basil, hemp seeds, lemon juice, salt, and pulse into a rough paste. Turn on the food processor, and drizzle in the olive oil through the opening in the lid of the food processor. If your food processor doesn’t have an opening add the olive oil to the container with the rest of the ingredients and let the food processor run until you reach your desired consistency. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to scrape down the sides of the food processor.
For the Pasta: Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water heats up, start your veggies. Once the water boils, cook the pasta according to package instructions. In a medium pot, add water and set over high heat. When pasta is done, reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Drain pasta.
In a large skillet add olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the onion, zucchini, yellow summer squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Saute about 5-8 minutes just to soften the squash. Set aside till pasta is done cooking.
Place the pan of vegetables back on low heat, add the cooked pasta, pesto, and ¼ cup of reserved pasta water. Add more water to reach the desired consistency of the pesto. liquid. Toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with nutritional yeast parm, Parmesan cheese, hemp seeds, and more basil leaves if desired. Serve warm.
Store leftover pesto pasta in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Pesto will keep in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for 3-6 months.