(MEATLESS MONDAYS/VEGAN RECIPES) If you’ve got a craving for pesto, this week’s Meat-Free Monday recipe is the one for you! Not only is this pesto penne pasta salad 100 percent vegan and gluten-free, but it only requires nine simple ingredients and comes together in about 30 minutes.

The insanely delicious, hearty pesto dressing combines classic flavors that burst with the added roasted tomatoes. It’s healthy, satisfying, and most importantly, quick! As always, happy eating! — Global Animal

Penne Pasta Salad

Pesto Penne Pasta Salad. Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

Yield: 6 servings


Pasta Salad
  • 2 cups semi-packed (~120 g), fresh basil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbsp or 12 g)
  • 1/4 cup (33 g) toasted pine nuts, plus more for serving (or sub raw walnuts)
  • 1 lemon, juiced (~3 Tbsp or 45 ml)
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) vegan parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Pinch sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil (extra virgin is best), plus more for pasta


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Add tomatoes to the baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil and a pinch each salt and pepper. Arrange cut side up and roast for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom and slightly shriveled. Set aside.
    3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Once boiling add pasta of choice and cook according to package instructions. Then drain and set aside. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to prevent sticking.
    4. Make pesto by adding basil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, vegan parmesan cheese, and salt to a food processor and blending to combine. Stream in the olive oil until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. If too dry, add a little water. It should be thick but pourable (see first photo).
    5. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lemon juice for acidity, vegan parmesan cheese for cheesiness, salt for saltiness, or garlic for bite/spice. Set aside.
    6. Add cooked pasta and roasted tomatoes to a mixing/serving bowl and top with pesto. Toss to combine and enjoy immediately. Garnish with extra vegan parmesan cheese and/or fresh parsley or basil (optional).
    7. Best when fresh, though leftovers keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Enjoy at room temperature for best flavor/texture.


Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 of 6 servings calculated with whole-grain penne and all of the pesto and tomatoes but no additional toppings.

*Pesto adapted from my Vegan Pesto Parmesan Breadsticks.

Recipe Courtesy of Minimalist Baker

More Minimalist Baker: https://minimalistbaker.com/penne-pasta-salad-30-minutes/

Learn more about the Meat-Free Mondays Challenge!

See more Meat-Free Monday recipes, here!