If you have 30 minutes, then you have enough time to throw together this simple Veggie Pesto Pasta recipe. It is made with fresh cooked vegetables, tender pasta, and tossed with basil pesto. It is great for a weeknight meal and can be adapted for whichever veggies you have on hand.

a hearty bowl of veggie pesto pasta garnished with parmesan and pine nuts

Why We Love This Recipe for Veggie Pesto Pasta

You may recall my recent pasta Caprese and pasta peperonata recipes, and if you do, it should come as no surprise that I’ve dreamt up this veggie pesto pasta recipe in yet another effort to make a pasta dinner of the season’s freshest produce! 

I mean who can pass up pasta and fresh produce? No one! (Especially not me!) This dish is so versatile in the sense that you can swap out the produce seasonally, add in some chicken or shrimp, or use a different type of pasta if desired. The pesto flavor grounds the dish with basil and garlic, and then the veggies elevate it and provide the nutritional benefits you want in a well-rounded dinner. 

This is a great meal to whip up on a weeknight since it only takes 30 minutes! It’s also a good dish to make before you head out on a trip and need to use up various veggies that’ll go bad if you leave them behind. Basically, it’s the perfect dish (It’s possible that I’m biased, so let me know what you think).

Key Ingredients for Pesto Pasta with Vegetables

rigatoni, broccoli, pine nuts, zucchini, peppers, basil, parmesan and seasonings

Basil Pesto

I love using homemade basil pesto in this recipe! Technically, pesto can be made out of any herb, but basil pesto suits this recipe best, in my opinion. You can make it yourself or if you’re short on time (who isn’t!!?) simply purchase it from your local grocery store. (Your secret will be safe with me!)

Pasta

Rigatoni is the pasta I chose for this recipe because of the way the ridges allow for the basil pesto to adhere. You wind up getting so much flavor with every bite! You are welcome to substitute different pasta options like whole wheat, gluten-free, or chickpea pasta for more protein.

Vegetables

The veggies in this recipe are what suited my family’s tastebuds and are in season right now. Here’s a list of what we used for the recipe this go-around, but you can always adapt the recipe and substitute different veggies based on what’s available seasonally.

  • Broccoli Florets
  • Bell Pepper
  • Zucchini

Additional Ingredients

  • Salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Shredded parmesan

Step By Step Instructions to Make This Recipe

make rigatoni and broccoli, and then saute veggies in a pan

Step 1: Cook Pasta and Broccoli in One Pot

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Add your pasta and cook it according to the package instructions until it’s al dente. Add the broccoli in the last 3 ½ minutes. Reserve a cup of pasta water and drain the remaining pasta and broccoli well.

Step 2: Cook The Other Vegetables in a Skillet

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and then add pepper, zucchini, and the remaining salt. Cook while stirring often until the vegetables start to brown. This should take about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook until it’s just tender, which should take about 2 minutes.

combining pasta and veggies in a pot

Step 3: Combine and Serve

Combine the drained pasta mixture, the cooked vegetables, and the pesto in the pasta pot. Thin it with reserved pasta liquid if necessary, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve your dish with pine nuts and parmesan if desired. Enjoy!

close up shot of rigatoni with pesto and cooked summer vegetables

FAQs and Expert Tips

Can this be made vegan?

This meal can be made vegan by purchasing a vegan pesto or making your own vegan pesto. Then omit the Parmesan sprinkled on top, or use nutritional yeast to maintain that cheesy flavor if desired.

Can I add protein to this dish?

You can, and there are many ways to do it! If you want to keep things plant-based, add 1 can of drained chickpeas to the saute and heat them through, or use chickpea pasta instead of white pasta.

If you have some meat-lovers looking to enjoy this meal, add 1 ½ cups of cooked and shredded chicken to the saute in the last minute or so – just until it’s heated through. Finally, a light summery option would be to sear shrimp in a separate skillet and then add it into the pesto in step there. Let me know what you try!

Can this be made ahead?

This pasta is best when freshly made, however, leftovers can be reheated in the microwave. Heat one serving for 2 minutes on high or until steaming hot.

Other Veggies To Try

One of the ways this recipe can be adapted is by swapping in different vegetables. Like our Vegetable Pasta Bake, Veggie Lasagna, and our Veggie Quiche, this Veggie Pesto Pasta can be enjoyed year-round by substituting whatever seasonal produce you have on hand. Here are some ideas!

  • Use 2 cups of Cauliflower or chopped broccoli rabe in place of the broccoli. 
  • Instead of zucchini try Diced Eggplant or asparagus (use 2 cups diced)
  • Yellow summer squash can be subbed for the zucchini
  • Try another color of bell pepper such as green or yellow bell peppers
  • One small thinly sliced sweet onion can be subbed for the pepper
  • Add a few handfuls of clean spinach to the saute at the last minute to wilt into the veggie mixture
  • Halved cherry tomatoes can also be added to the saute in the last minute or two

The only thing to keep in mind is each vegetable’s cooking rate. Be sure to cut harder veggies (like carrots) small and add them to the pasta liquid to cook so the water content can speed up the process. Softer vegetables (like mushrooms) can remain a larger size, and they can be sauteed because they cook faster and already have higher water content. They don’t need the extra help like the harder veggies.

Additional Quick and Healthy Pasta Recipes To Try

two bowls of veggie pesto pasta with pine nuts and parmesan cheese on top

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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veggie pesto pasta with parmesan on top

Veggie Pesto Pasta


  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 10 cups, 6 servings
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

If you have 30 minutes, then you have enough time to throw together this simple Veggie Pesto Pasta recipe. It is made with fresh cooked vegetables, tender pasta and tossed with basil pesto. It is great for a weeknight meal and can be adapted for whichever veggies you have on hand.


Ingredients

¾ teaspoon salt plus more for pasta cooking water

1 pound rigatoni (whole-wheat or gluten-free if desired)

2 cups broccoli florets

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 small zucchini, cut into half moons

2/3 cup basil pesto, homemade or purchased

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Toasted pine nuts and shredded parmesan for serving, if desired


Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. In last 3 ½ minutes, add the broccoli. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pepper, zucchini and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often until the vegetables start to brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Combine the drained pasta mixture, the cooked vegetables and pesto in the pasta pot. Thin with cooking liquid if necessary. Season with pepper to taste. 
  4. Serve topped with pine nuts and Parmesan if desired.

Notes

Ingredient Note:

Feel free to adapt this recipe for whichever veggies you have on hand. 

  • Use 2 cups Cauliflower or broccoli rabe in place of the broccoli. 
  • Instead of zucchini try Diced Eggplant or asparagus (use 2 cups diced)
  • Yellow summer squash can be subbed for the zucchini
  • Try another color bell pepper such as green or yellow bell peppers
  • One small thinly sliced sweet onion can be subbed for the pepper
  • Add a few handfuls of clean spinach to the saute in the last minute to wilt into the veggie mixture
  • Halved cherry tomatoes can also be added to the saute in the last minute or two

Just remember to try to use veggies that cook at the same rate. For harder veggies, add them to the cooking liquid with the pasta, and softer/quicker cooking veggies can be sauteed.

Tip: To toast pine nuts, stir in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. 

Make Ahead: This pasta is best when freshly made, however, leftovers can be reheated in the microwave. Heat one serving for 2 minutes on high or until steaming hot.

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Active Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 2/3 cups
  • Calories: 399
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 61 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 12 g

Keywords: Veggie Pesto Pasta, Pesto Pasta with Vegetables, pesto pasta with veggies, pasta with pesto and vegetables