This Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad is an absolutely perfect way to use up all that late summer produce – think courgettes, sweetcorn, sweet red peppers and fresh basil!
There’s something so wonderful about a pasta salad in theory – it’s quick to put together, easy to eat, and great for warm summer evenings.
But in reality, pasta salad tends to be a sad and sorry affair that belongs in a plastic box on the least frequented shelf of the supermarket. And it usually consists of stodgy, slightly congealed lumps of starch coated in lashings of gloopy mayonnaise, dotted with the odd slice of processed ham.
I wanted to change this reality. I wanted to make a pasta salad that would redeem all those mediocre pasta salads I’ve eaten in my life so far. I wanted to make one that’s vibrantly colourful, fresh and intensely savoury. And unlike your normal pasta salad, this one is vegan and gluten-free too!
I was, however, a little unsure about what dressing to use. A mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and salt seemed a little uninspiring to me. I then remembered how much I love pesto sauce with pasta. But I wanted to make this pasta salad extra colourful, summery, and slightly Mediterranean-inspired, so I went for a sundried tomato pesto sauce, using my go-to vegan version.
Then I jazzed it up with some roasted red peppers, courgettes and sweetcorn (hello, late summer produce!), artichoke hearts, plump, juicy olives and fresh basil.
This Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad is delicious as a quick weeknight dinner, an easy lunch, and it’s really easy to double or triple the quantities to feed a crowd.
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
- 2 portions penne or fusilli pasta (ensure gluten-free if necessary - I like brown rice pasta)
- 1 courgette, thickly sliced
- 1 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ear of sweetcorn (or sub a small tin of sweetcorn, drained)
- 5 artichoke hearts from a tin, drained
- A few olives
- Handful of fresh basil
- 8 (oil-preserved) sundried tomatoes
- Handful of fresh basil
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Generous glug of olive oil
- Pinch of salt + pepper, to taste
- Optional: pinch of cayenne chilli pepper, to taste
- Optional: 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees
- Place sweetcorn on a baking tray without oil (If using tined sweetcorn instead of fresh sweetcorn, add the tinned sweetcorn to the courgettes and peppers about 10 minutes before taking them out - you don't want to overcook them but just roast them lightly)
- Place courgette and red pepper on a separate baking tray with 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Bake both in oven for around 30 minutes, until the sweetcorn is tender and slightly brown, and the courgette and peppers are soft and slightly charred (stir these a few times during the cooking process to ensure they are cooked evenly)
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet and make the pesto
- Make the sundried tomato pesto by adding all the ingredients for the pesto to a blender and whizz until smooth
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, rinse it with cold water to get rid of any excess starch, place it back in the pot you cooked it in and stir through the pesto
- Add the roasted courgettes, red peppers and sweetcorn and mix well
- To serve, transfer pasta to a bowl or plate and top with artichoke hearts, olives and some fresh basil