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Whole Wheat Pasta With Pesto and Vegetables

A skillet with whole wheat pasta, vegetables, and a spoon. Play Video

Have you ever heard that eating healthy is expensive? Michelle Estrada, family and consumer sciences agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension, debunks that myth with this simple and delicious recipe for a healthy alternative to your pasta dishes.

Whole wheat pasta is great to make for the whole family, and it takes little to no time to prepare and enjoy. This recipe can be made with a variety of in-season vegetables from your local farmers market or your own home garden.

This dish is filled with color and nutrients and is rich in grains, which are necessary for a healthy diet. According to USDA’s MyPlate guidelines, at least half of your daily grain consumption should come from whole grains.

The best part? You can adjust the portions of vegetables and pasta to make as much of this dish as you like!


Whole Wheat Pasta With Pesto and Vegetables

Yield: 8 servings Time: 30 min.


  • 1/2 box (~4 cups) whole wheat pasta (bow-tie or rotini)
  • 2 broccoli heads, chopped
  • 1 zucchini squash, sliced
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced
  • 5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare all of your vegetables ahead of time. Slice the zucchini, yellow squash and carrots to a uniform size to ensure they cook evenly. Cut the broccoli into small florets and dice the red bell pepper. Mince the garlic as well.
  2. Heat the olive oil to medium heat in a large skillet—make sure it’s large enough to fit all of the vegetables.
  3. Cook your whole wheat pasta according to the package instructions while heating the olive oil. This should take about 10 minutes.
  4. Add minced garlic to the olive oil until fragrant.
  5. Add the harder vegetables to the skillet first, as they will take longer to cook. Start with carrots, move them around the pan, and continue.
  6. Add broccoli florets next, followed by yellow squash and then zucchini with about a minute in between each. Stir to prevent them from burning.
  7. Add red bell peppers last and mix.
  8. Add pesto and combine all of the vegetables thoroughly.
  9. Add salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.
  10. Using a spider strainer or a similar tool, transfer the drained whole wheat pasta onto the skillet. Combine it well with the vegetables and pesto, making sure it’s well coated and seasoned.
  11. Transfer to a plate and add Parmesan cheese at the end.

Med Instead of Meds

Find this and other delicious recipes at Med Instead of Meds. A program of NC State Extension and the N.C. Division of Public Health, Med Instead of Meds promotes a healthy lifestyle that incorporates a Mediterranean-style diet and reduces the need for medications associated with chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.