Layered pasta salad packed with roast and fresh vegetables and a basil dill pesto. It is a gorgeous table centrepiece and perfect for the warmer seasons or Christmas!
Christmas in Australia is in the middle of Summer which means we often want a cool (but hearty) salad. This layered pasta salad is the perfect centrepiece and even features beautiful festive colours!
How to make the layered salad quickly
Like most salads, it takes a bit of time to prepare all the vegetables. Here are a few tips to save you time in the kitchen:
- Roast the beetroot and corn first.
- While those vegetables are roasting, you can make your pesto and cook your pasta on the stove.
- While the beetroot and corn are cooling down, chop up all your vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini etc).
Ingredients you'll need
Overall, the layered salad has around 7 layers and 9-10 key ingredients.
The top salad layers uses mostly uncooked ingredients including:
- Salad leaves
- Cucucmber (or chopped cabbage)
- Zucchini (optional)
- Cherry tomatoes (or chopped regular tomatoes)
- Cooked short pasta. I used small shells but other short pasta like penne, spirals, fusilli, bow ties, macaroni etc will work!
- Butter beans but chickpeas will also work!
I love adding roast vegetables to salads as it provides textural contrast and heartiness. For this layered salad, I roasted beetroot and corn cobs.
The corn can be roasted IN its husk. Simply place it whole in the oven and bake away. The husk acts as a natural cover allowing the corn kernels to steam and cook.
Like many salads, these ingredients are interchangeable depending on what's in season or what's available for you.
Making the pesto for the layered salad
All salads need a good dressing. To maintain the freshness of this salad, I made a dairy-free herbed pesto including basil and dill. If you don't like dill, you can just use basil or vice versa.
The pesto is really easy to make. Simply add all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until it forms a paste!
If you taste the pesto by itself, it may be a little overpowering. However, remember that it'll be mixed with A LOT of vegetables so we need the pesto to be punchy!
Making the salad in advance
Parts of the salad can be made in advance! The day before serving the salad, you can:
- Roast the beetroot and corn.
- Make the pesto.
- Cook the pasta. Toss it in a little oil before you store it.
All these components should be stored in an airtight container overnight. I wouldn't really recommend cutting the fresh vegetables (tomatoes, cucumber etc) beforehand as they can dry out in the fridge overnight.
Check out my other vegan lunch and dinner recipes
- Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad
- Maple BBQ Cauliflower Wraps
- BBQ Jackfruit Tacos
- Pita Pizzas with pesto
- Lemongrass Tofu Bahn Mi Pitas
- Wintery beetroot and lentil salad
Vegan Layered Pasta Salad with Pesto
- 2 large beetroot, peeled or brushed and chopped into 2 cm (1 inch) cubes
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 corn cobs, husk intact
Pesto (or use store-bought)
- 3 cups basil and/or dill leaves
- ½ cup pine nuts, or walnuts or seed of choice, toasted
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or water
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 300g any short pasta, gluten free if needed, cooked according to packet instructions
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 can (400g) butter beans, drained
- 2 cups salad leaves
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, spiralised (optional)
Roasting the vegetables:
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Toss the beetroot, olive oil, salt and pepper on a lined baking tray. Place the tray on one shelf of your oven. Place the corn directly on another shelf of your oven.
- Bake the beetroot and corn for 30 minutes. The beetroot should be tender and the corn husk should be slightly charred.
- When the corn has cooled, remove the husk and use a serrated knife to cut off the kernels.
- Add all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blitz until a smooth paste forms.
- In a large bowl, toss together the salad leaves, cucumber, corn kernels and optional zucchini.
- Layer the trifle in the following order or as desired: roast beetroot, chopped tomatoes, cooked pasta, butter beans, pesto then the green salad mixture.
- Serve immediately. Alternatively, keep all the salad components in separate containers in the fridge until needed. Assemble 1 hour before serving.
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