Quinoa Pasta Salad with Pistachio Pesto

This gluten-free and vegan pasta salad is a quick fix recipe, perfect hot or cold. With a tasty mix of pistachio pesto, cherry tomatoes, and fava beans, each bowl makes a delicious and balanced meal.

Vegan Quinoa Pasta Salad Recipe


Nutrition per serving
Net Carbs51.8 g18.9%
of which Sugars3.4 g3.8%
Fibers10.8 g38.6%
Fats18.4 g28.4%
of which Saturates2.6 g13.2%
of which Omega 30.5 g44.6%
Proteins17.4 g37.9%
Calcium114 mg11.4%
Vitamin A80 mcg11.4%
Vitamin C40 mg52.9%
Iron6.9 mg46.3%
Potassium877 mg25.1%
Sodium190 mg8.2%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Kcal443 22.1%
Macro split
  • net carbs 53%
  • sugars 3%
  • fats 19%
  • saturates 3%
  • proteins 18%
  • fibers 11%
*RDA based on a 2000 kcal diet;
**Nutritional data sources: USDA, food labels.
443 per serving

Cold pasta salads make great lunch boxes, and they are perfect for batch cooking. Today, we'll share with you the recipe for a vegan and gluten-free pasta salad. We made it using quinoa pasta, a fresh pistachio pesto, Kalamata olives, sautéed broad beans, and baby vine tomatoes.

Although we designed the recipe to be gluten-free (quinoa pasta doesn't contain any gluten), you can use this same recipe with plain pasta too. And even if you are intolerant to gluten, you can select whichever GF pasta you fancy. We like to use red lentil pasta and quinoa pasta in our gluten-free recipes because they are rich in proteins.

Quinoa pasta is quite special when it comes to proteins. Did you know that quinoa is among the few plants to have complete proteins? Complete proteins contain all the nine essential amino acids your body needs to synthesize proteins. If you eat predominantly vegan, make sure to consume plenty of diverse foods to get all the amino acids your body needs. Or just eat quinoa and get them all in a fell swoop!

When it comes to pasta salads, the secret is selecting ingredients that preserve their flavour, or even improve it, when eaten cold. Veggies are an ideal candidate, but some are better than others. Try to use ingredients that don't get soggy, and opt for those that stay crisp. For example, aubergines get soggy after a day in the fridge, while beans don't.

These are the ingredients we used to make this pasta salad super healthy and flavourful. They taste fantastic right off the pot as well as on the next day.

  • Tomatoes — a colourful and juicy source of vitamin A and C

  • Broad beans — for a tasty boost of proteins and dietary fibres.

  • Black kalamata olives — they are an excellent source of antioxidants and healthy unsaturated fats.

  • Homemade pesto made with pistachios, basil, and lemon. This green sauce ties all the ingredients together and makes the pasta creamy and refreshing.

Finally, this quinoa pasta salad makes for a heck of a balanced and nutritious meal. One satisfying bowl will give you 31% RDI for proteins, 38% RDI for fibres, and 20% RDI for carbs, in 445 calories. The recipe is quick and simple, ready in just 30 minutes. Enjoy it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is quinoa pasta?

Quinoa pasta is a type of gluten-free pasta made with a combination of grains and pseudocereals. Although there are different varieties, the most common ingredients include quinoa, rice, corn, and amaranth.

Rice and corn are grains often used in gluten-free products like pasta, bread, and pastries. Quinoa and amaranth are technically seeds or pseudocereals, but they are prepared and consumed like a grain.

Quinoa and amaranth are rich in fibres and proteins, and they provide a nutritious, gluten-free alternative to wheat.

Some quinoa pasta brands also include other ingredients like millet flour, green split pea flour, or flax flour.

Is quinoa pasta low carb?

The amount of quinoa flour used in the pasta can vary dramatically from brand to brand, affecting the nutritional value and overall carb content.

It can range from as little as 5% to a whopping 90%, but we found that 10%-20% are the most common proportions.

Quinoa seeds themselves are slightly lower in carbs than grains like whole wheat, freekeh, bulgur wheat, brown rice, and barley[1]. Thus, it's safe to say that pasta made with quinoa has slightly fewer carbs. However, this is greatly affected by type and amount of the other ingredients used to make the pasta.

We believe that quinoa pasta offers a great gluten-free alternative for celiacs or those who suffer from gluten sensitivity. But, quinoa is still regarded as high-carb food in low carb diets, like the ketogenic diet.

If you're looking for a low carb alternative to classic pasta, then other options like edamame spaghetti, kelp noodles, or zucchini noodles would be the best choice.

What is pasta salad? And do you have it hot or cold?

Pasta salad, also known as pasta fredda, is a very common dish in Italy, especially during the summer season as it's often served cold. Pasta salad is one of the go-to recipes on occasions like outdoor gatherings with friends and family, a picnic in the park or on the beach, or a party.

The basic pasta salad recipe includes Mediterranean flavours and ingredients, like tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, tuna, and fresh basil. Other common ingredients include peas, courgettes, carrots, or red peppers.

It's really up to your personal preferences in terms of ingredients and pasta choices. Any type of pasta will do as long as it's short. You can use penne, fusilli, bow ties (farfalle) or shells (conchiglie).

We recommend cooking the pasta al dente, that is firm to the bite.

To do so, check the packet instruction. If it gives you a cooking time for "al dente" results, follow that. Otherwise, taste the pasta 3-2 minutes before the end of cooking time, and then every 30 seconds after that.

Al dente pasta should feel soft on the outside but hard on the inside. Take a bite and look at the pasta. If you see a tiny white stripe inside, then the pasta is ready.


Measuring System
Broad Beans (fresh or frozen)320 g
Extra Virgin Olive Oil2 tbsp
Garlic Cloves2
Chilli Flakes1 tsp
Fresh Basil50 g
Pistachios40 g
Quinoa Pasta280 g
Cherry Tomatoes240 g
Pitted Black Olives80 g

Step 1

In a pot, bring water to a boil, add the broad beans, and cook them for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet and sizzle 1 crushed garlic and the chilli flakes until fragrant.

Then, drain the beans, add them to the skillet, and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

cooked broad beans in a pan

Step 2

Meanwhile, let's prepare the pesto.

Add fresh basil, pistachios, lemon juice, the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and 1 garlic into a mortar or a food processor.

Then, crush the ingredients with the pestle, or blitz them, until creamy.

pesto with pistachios and lemon

Step 3

Bring water back to a boil and cook the quinoa pasta according to packet instructions.

We recommend cooking the pasta al dente, that is firm to the bite.

Then, drain it and run it under cold water so that it won't keep cooking and get soggy.

This is ideal if you're planning to eat the pasta salad cold.

cooked quinoa pasta

Step 4

Toss the cooked quinoa pasta with the prepared pistachio pesto, halved cherry tomatoes, and pitted black olives.

Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh basil.

quinoa pasta salad with tomatoes and olives