Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers (Meatless)

This Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers uses pantry ingredients you probably keep in the house.

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers found on KalynsKitchen.comThere are recipes where you carefully purchase special ingredients in anticipation of the dish, and then there are recipes where you have something in the fridge, and you stare into the pantry thinking, "What can I make with this?"

It was the Basil Pesto with Lemon that inspired this uber-simple Easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers. I used canned olives and roasted red pepper from a jar to round out the salad, but there are lots of other possibilities that would taste good here (check after the recipe for other ideas.) Actually pasta salad with pesto dressing is just a version of pasta with pesto, so how can this not be good?

If you're someone who reads this blog because you're following the South Beach Diet, you may be wondering how pasta salad can be diet-friendly. I started with Dreamfields Rotini, but you could also use whole wheat pasta. (Dreamfields is a healthy pasta that I've had great success with, and I think it tastes exactly like regular pasta.)

If you're using a commercial dressing like I did, be sure to choose one with not more than 3 grams of sugar per serving for the South Beach Diet. (I used Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing, mixed half and half with my Basil Pesto with Lemon.)

Then make your salad South Beach friendly by using a fair amount of low-glycemic ingredients in proportion to the amount of pasta. I used a whole can of olives, cut in half.

Plus a 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, diced into small pieces.

I combined the olives and red bell peppers with only 12 oz. Dreamfields Rotini, cooked exactly 9 minutes, then drained and cooled for 10 minutes before combining with the other salad ingredients.

After the pasta cools for 10 minutes, stir in enough dressing to coat the slightly-warm pasta. (You may not need all the dressing, but save the rest in case you want to add it later.)

Combine the pasta with dressing, diced red bell pepper, and olives.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and chill in the fridge 1-3 hours. To serve, in 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a little more dressing if the salad seems dry. Serve slightly chilled or at or room temperature.

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

12 oz. Dreamfields or whole wheat Rotini pasta
1 can black olives, drained well, then cut in half
12 oz. jar roasted red bell pepper, drained well and diced
1/3 cup vinaigrette dressing (I used Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing, but use any vinaigrette with less than 3 grams of sugar per serving for South Beach Diet)
1/3 cup pesto (I used Basil Pesto with Lemon, but you can use purchased basil pesto as well)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Fill a medium-sized pot half full of water, add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil. Add pasta, and cook 9 minutes (or check package for cooking time if you're using whole wheat pasta.) Drain pasta well, and let cool for 10 minutes while you prep other ingredients.

Pour olives into a colander, drain well, then cut olives in half. Pour red bell peppers into colander, drain well, and dice into small pieces.

Combine vinaigrette dressing and pesto, whisking together.

When pasta is cool, stir in enough dressing to coat the pasta. (You may not need all the dressing, but save it to add if needed after the salad has chilled.) Add olives and roasted red pepper, and stir gently to combine. Cover salad with plastic wrap or a lid, and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

To serve, remove salad from refrigerator and stir in 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more dressing if needed to moisten salad. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Other things you could use in this salad:
-diced marinated artichoke hearts
-marinated mushrooms, cut in half
-cooked turkey Italian sausage, cut into small pieces
-turkey pepperoni, chopped
-grilled vegetables of any type such as zucchini, mushrooms, onions, or summer squash
-cubed fresh mozzarella cheese

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
Be sure to follow the suggestions in the recipe for types of pasta, types of dressing, and use of low-glycemic ingredients if you're making this salad for the South Beach Diet. With those cautions, the salad would be approved for phase 2 or 3 of the diet. It's relatively high in fat, so it's probably best for a "once-in-a-while-treat" for South Beach.

More Pasta Salad You May Like:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Pasta Salad with Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Zucchini, and Basil from Kalyn's Kitchen

Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives from Kalyn's Kitchen

Shrimp and Macaroni Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen

Macaroni Salad with Fresh Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen

Pesto Pasta Salad from Simply Recipes

Pasta Salad from Humble Recipes

Roasted Garlic, Olive, and Tomato Pasta Salad from The Kitchn

Broccoli, Basil, and Pasta Salad from The Perfect Pantry

Wagon Wheel Taco Pasta Salad from Cara's Cravings

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. Everything about this pasta screams Yum! ;) Love the suggested add ins. Thanks for another great recipe!!

  2. I love adding black olives to my pasta dishes - so delicious! Thanks for sharing this!!

  3. Chris thanks! I think there are so many good possibilities for this one.

    Courtney, me too; I love every type of olives.

  4. I'll have to look for Dreamfields - I don't think I've seen it on the East Coast, but I'll have to search harder.

  5. What a great looking, appetizing dish, Kalyn! Those olives look blue black in the photos and so appealing. Another reason to make some pesto! :-) I have just the right amount of gluten-free pasta on hand, too.


  6. Pesto pasta always feels like summer to me! I bet some cherry tomatoes would go well here too!

  7. What I love about this recipe is that almost everything in it is always in my pantry, including basil in the freezer. I love the Dreamfields rotini and use it for many hot and cold pasta dishes. It tastes just like pasta that has all of its carbs, and it's not the least bit mushy or overly chewy like some whole wheat pasta can be. I learned about Dreamfields on your blog and I've been using it ever since.

  8. This looks delicious! I love Dreamfields pasta, too :)

  9. TW, not every store here has it, but I can find it at several of our major grocery stores. For some reason I haven't been able to find the macaroni lately though, so I just ordered a case of it from!

    Pearl, me too!

    Shirley, thanks. Glad you have a gluten-free pasta that will work.

    Joanne, I think tomatoes would taste good, but I'd add them after you chill the salad.

    Lydia, so glad I could introduce you to Dreamfields. I think it's just fantastic!

    Scuttleboose, another Dreamfields fan!

  10. I am going to have to try Dreamfields. I have tried numerous brands of Whole Wheat Pastas and I can't stand them. My husband refuses to eat them. I miss pasta very much.

  11. I promise you, Dreamfield's pasta tastes exactly like regular pasta! It's fantastic.

  12. Ohh yum! Sometimes the best dishes are those that come from "whatever is in the fridge"!

  13. Dana, I agree! Especially if you have pesto in your fridge.

  14. I look forward to your creations. I made the grilled zucchini, tomatoe, olive and feta cheese dish 2 days ago. Yummy. Thanks

  15. Elenka, thank you! So glad to hear you're enjoying the recipes.

  16. This is my kind of salad since pesto shows up often:D

  17. Looks so good! Thanks for the tip about Dreamfields. I had not tried it until I read about it on your site a couple of months ago. I've used it a number of times with great results, and I've snuck it to some people who never realized they were eating something low-carb. ;-)

  18. Alice I use it quite often for family parties and people can't tell the difference!

  19. I am certain that I would not be able to stop eating this. This is the type of pasta salad that I would keep going back to the fridge for, taking bite after bite.

  20. Dara, I did have to try to restrain myself! Gave some of it away so I couldn't eat too much!

  21. My kind of pasta salad - simple, colorful and with olives ;-))

  22. Katie, olives make everything better!

  23. I love this! It looks so simple, but delicious. I'm currently obsessed with pesto and do agree that olives make everything better :) Perfect weeknight dinner!


  24. Sues, thanks. (Seems like there are a lot of olive-lovers out there!)

  25. I love anything with olives! I am so glad you included a link back to the pesto. Our son has egg allergies and I wonder if it would taste okay to eliminate it? I would love to try this and it looks awesome - will use my favorite whole grain pasta called Kamut! Thanks :)

  26. Smilinggreenmom, not sure what you mean? (The pesto doesn't have any eggs?) If you meant to say nut allergies, you could definitely leave out the pine nuts and it would still be good. I might use a bit more cheese.

  27. What a perfect summer salad! I actually just purchased a wonderful spicy pesto at our local Farmer's Market today, this would be a perfect way to use it!!!

  28. Kim, hope you like it! Spicy pesto would be interesting in this.

  29. The colors are gorgeous!! Cannot wait to try this out, I have all the ingredients except olive (but hubby is picky and seems to hate them, so it's fine)


  30. Healthy and Homemade, just sub something else for the olives and you're set!

  31. Oh wow. My husband and I were discussing the need to research a pesto pasta salad today and before I even searched it, I found it on foodgawker staring me in the face. Thank you!

  32. I just love how colorful and vibrant your salad looks.


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