A Nutty Twist: Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad


Elevate your pasta salad to new heights with this walnut pesto packed version, bursting with fresh flavors and crunchy textures in every bite. Taking just 30 minutes to prepare, it makes for a quick and easy dish to wow summer guests or brighten up your weekly meal prep. 

The walnut pesto enrobes the protein-rich chickpea pasta, lending its nutty richness and fragrant herbaceousness. Juicy cherry tomatoes, crunchy celery and red onion provide delightful pops of color and crunch. It’s all brought together with the bright acidity of lemon juice and crisp coolness of arugula.

This salad provides 6 hearty portions, each containing 400 calories and 12 grams of plant-based protein. You’ll also get plenty of fiber, iron, antioxidants and healthy fats from the walnuts to keep you satisfied.

A Nutty Twist: Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad


  1. 12 oz chickpea pasta (340g)
  2. 1 cup walnuts (120g)
  3. 2 cups packed basil leaves (40g)
  4. 1⁄4 cup olive oil (60mL)
  5. 2 cloves garlic
  6. 1 lemon, juiced
  7. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (340g)  
  8. 2 stalks celery, sliced (120g) 
  9. 1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced (60g)
  10. 2 cups baby arugula (60g)
  11. Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water; set aside.
  2. Make pesto: Blend walnuts, basil, oil, garlic and lemon juice in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large bowl, mix cooled pasta, pesto, tomatoes, celery and onion until well combined.  
  4. Right before serving, gently fold in arugula.
  5. Enjoy this salad chilled or at room temperature. Sprinkle extra walnuts on top if desired.
A Nutty Twist: Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad 02

Expert Tips

  • Use a mini food processor for easier pesto making.
  • Toast walnuts before blending for deeper flavor.  
  • Cook pasta al dente for the best salad texture.
  • Store leftover salad in the fridge up to 4 days.


  1. Can I use a different pasta? Yes, try rotini or farfalle for fun shapes.
  2. How long does the pesto last? Up to 1 week refrigerated or 2 months frozen.
  3. What oil works best? Olive oil is classic, but you can also use walnut oil.

With its symphony of flavors and textures, from the fragrant pesto to the juicy tomatoes and crunchy greens, this protein-packed pasta salad will quickly become a favorite. Let me know if you need any other recipe ideas!