Penne pasta is tossed with roasted asparagus, fragrant pesto and creamy goat cheese to create this easy, crowd-pleasing pasta salad recipe.
Pasta salads are one of my favorite make-ahead dishes to prep and stash in the fridge for when I need it. Whether it’s a busy weeknight side dish or a quick lunch, having a veggie-packed pasta salad on hand is always a good idea.
Right now asparagus is in season so it’s affordable, readily available and packed with nutrients. Of course, if you can’t find asparagus feel free to swap out with any vegetables you have on hand. Great alternatives would be green beans, peas, red peppers, zucchini or corn.
While I often work with fresh, raw veggies to pasta or grain salads (such as my Brown Rice Greek Salad), I also love roasting veggies for even more flavor.
In about 10-15 minutes the asparagus will caramelize in the oven as it roasts becoming sweet and tender.
While the asparagus is roasting, toss the pasta together with basil pesto. Every summer I make a big batch of homemade pesto and stash it in the freezer but store-bought is fine too!
Once you’ve roasted the asparagus, toss it with the pasta, pesto and lemon juice. I like to do this when the pasta and asparagus are warm so that it slightly “melts” the pesto. If it’s a little too thick, toss in a little of the reserved cooking liquid.
Fresh herbs are always a good idea when creating a pasta salad. Basil, dill or parsley are all great options for this pesto pasta salad but if you don’t have them on hand, no worries.
Lastly, I like to crumble in a little creamy goat cheese on to before serving. Feta would also work well as would large shavings of parmesan cheese.
Frequently asked questions:
What’s the best way to roast asparagus?
Simply toss the asparagus, either whole or cut in bite-sized pieces, in a resealable plastic bag or a large bowl then drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat evenly then scatter in a single layer on baking sheet.
Cleaning Tip: Line the sheet with foil for easy cleanup but spray with cooking spray before adding the veggies.
How do you freeze pesto?
Check out my guide on How to Make and Freeze Basil Pesto for step-by-step instructions.
How long will this pasta salad stay fresh?
This pasta salad can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. If you decide to refrigerate it the pasta salad will stay good for up to 5 days.
What should I serve with a pesto pasta salad?
I like to serve this pasta salad with grilled chicken, broiled salmon or roasted pork tenderloin. It would be great with any protein, really. Alternatively, to keep it vegetarian, I will serve over arugula and toss in white beans for added protein.
Your fork is waiting.
Pesto Pasta with Asparagus and Goat Cheese
- 1 pound penne pasta (or short cut pasta of choice)
- 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- ½ cup pesto
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- ¼ cup fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil or dill) (minced)
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss asparagus with olive oil plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper then spread in even layer on baking sheet. Roast until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Cut asparagus into 1-inch, bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked, place in bowl along with aspargus and toss with pesto, lemon juice, goat cheese and herbs. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.