This chickpea pasta salad is the perfect light, summery meal - the flavours are seriously irresistible. It's packed with different tastes and textures, with fresh vegetables and plenty of tasty bits, all coated in a vibrant pesto dressing. Try to resist going back for 'just one more bite', I dare you.
This unbelievably tasty vegetarian pasta salad has got so many wonderful mix-ins, including (but not only!) fresh tomatoes, black olives, chickpeas, and crumbled feta cheese. Every bite is different, with a new little pop of flavour to discover in each mouthful. The addition of chickpeas make the salad extra hearty, with more protein and fibre than other pasta salads.
And if you don't like any of the ingredients I've chosen, just switch them out for something different! It's really customisable, and as long as you follow the simple formula below, you'll end up with an incredible pasta salad.
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's packed with flavour, different textures, and all kinds of goodness.
- Pasta salad makes a great light meal for sunshiny days, but there's no reason you couldn't curl up with a bowlful at any time of year, if the weather's not on your side!
- You can switch out the ingredients depending on your personal preferences, what catches your eye in the store, or just what you have lingering in the fridge!
- Chickpea pasta salad is the ideal meal to cook in bulk and then store in the fridge for a few days, serving big spoonfuls in lunchboxes, or just for a quick meal whenever you need one.
Here's what you'll need to make this recipe. You'll also need a few cupboard staples, like salt and pepper. See the printable recipe card below for detailed ingredient quantities.
- pasta. Any smallish shape is welcome here, such as macaroni, penne, conchiglie, fusilli, or farfalle (which is what I used). I would avoid long strands of pasta (like spaghetti, tagliatelle or mafalde), as they don't work as well for pasta salad.
- fresh pesto. Pesto is easy to find in jars for fairly cheap, but if you can splash out on a tub of the fresh stuff (or just make your own at home!), I promise it's worth it - you can really taste the difference. I used basil pesto, but any variety will work well.
- chickpeas - tinned ones, to make this a quick throw-together meal.
- red onion
- black olives
- feta cheese
- tinned sweetcorn
- cherry tomatoes
- fresh arugula (rocket)
👌 Top tip
The only thing that needs cooking in this recipe is the pasta - so if you have any cooked pasta leftover from yesterday, this chickpea pasta salad will be even quicker to make!
To prevent cooked pasta from clumping as it cools, make sure you rinse it thoroughly in cold water, so the starch doesn't stick it together. Then, just store it in the fridge for a day or two, until you're ready to mix up your pasta salad.
📝 Formula for a Perfect Vegetarian Pasta Salad
This type of recipe is just calling out for you to put your own spin on it. I won't be offended if you want to switch things up a bit! You can easily change up any of the ingredients to suit your preferences.
My go-to formula for a tasty pasta salad is this:
pasta + protein + vegetables + leaves + tasty bits + dressing
If you stick to this simple formula, you're sure to end up with a super tasty pasta salad. Here are some ideas!
- Protein (choose 1 or 2). I used tinned chickpeas and some crumbled feta cheese - you could change these for tinned lentils, tinned black beans, chopped boiled egg, grated cheddar cheese, mozzarella balls, pumpkin seeds, chopped peanuts or cashew nuts, etc.
- Fresh vegetables (choose 3+). Each vegetable brings a different flavour and texture to the salad, so try to choose a nice variety - as many different colours as you can (which helps it to look really good too!). I used tomatoes, sweetcorn and red onion. Other great veggies could be cucumber, spring onions, chopped bell peppers, or even finely chopped raw broccoli.
- Leafy greens (choose 1). I like to add some greens to bring a bit of vibrancy to the pasta salad. I used arugula (rocket), but some baby spinach would be great too. Stick with a dark green leaf, rather than something light like iceberg lettuce, which can wilt and go soggy more quickly.
- Tasty bits (choose 1 or 2). These are the ingredients that really bring a pasta salad to life with rich flavour. I used black olives - you could change them for sun-dried tomatoes, capers, pickled jalapeños, or fresh herbs like parsley or basil.
- Dressing (choose 1). I used fresh basil pesto, which is my go-to for an ultra tasty pasta salad. Other types of pesto work well too (tomato and chilli pesto is amazing!). Alternatively, you can opt for a salad dressing such as a creamy Caesar dressing (just make sure you choose a vegetarian one, or make your own homemade Caesar dressing).
Here's how to make this recipe - see below for the printable recipe with detailed ingredients and instructions.
Step 1: Boil your pasta until it's cooked al dente, then rinse it thoroughly with cold water to stop it sticking together.
Step 2: Add the pesto, and mix thoroughly.
Step 3: Add the remaining ingredients, and mix to combine.
Step 4: Serve chilled.
👌 Top tip
Pasta salad is perfect for vegetarian packed lunches! Store the fully assembled salad in the fridge in a sealed tub for up to 3 days, and just scoop some into your lunchbox whenever you need it.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Absolutely - pasta salad can easily be made gluten-free by using your favourite gluten-free pasta.
Definitely! Pasta salad is just as good the next day (or for up to 3 days after cooking), as long as you've stored it properly, in a sealed tub in the fridge.
Yes - just fully cook the dried chickpeas as you usually would, and allow them to cool. Then prepare the recipe as written.
If you've followed the formula above, your chickpea pasta salad will already contain a nice mixture of protein, carbs and vegetables, so you don't need to serve anything else with it unless you want to. If you do fancy a side dish, a nice green salad always goes down well, or perhaps some garlic bread if you want something more substantial.
📖 Printable Recipe
Chickpea Pasta Salad
If you've cooked this recipe, don't forget to leave a star rating!Print Pin Comment
- 250 g (~ ½ lb) uncooked pasta (or 500g / ~ 1 lb cooked pasta)
- 130 g (~ 4 ½ oz / ~ ½ cup) fresh basil pesto
- 400 g tin chickpeas, drained (240g, or ~ 1 ¼ cups, when drained)
- ½ red onion, diced
- 100 g (~ ½ cup) tinned sweetcorn
- 100 g (~ 3 ½ oz) feta cheese, roughly crumbled
- 125 g (~ 4 ½ oz) good quality cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 50 g (~ ⅓ cup) black olives, whole or sliced
- 60 g (~ 2 oz) fresh rocket (arugula)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Boil the pasta in plenty of water until cooked al dente, then drain. Rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove any starch - this helps to avoid clumping.
- Add the pesto to the cooked pasta, and mix thoroughly.
- Add the remaining ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to combine. Serve chilled.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.