Foodist Approved: Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies and Sardines Recipe

by | Jul 19, 2016
Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Sardines

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Sardines

Yup, you heard that right, sardines! Sardines are a much-underutilized ingredient, but should be a staple you keep on hand in your pantry. They’re a great addition to pasta because they add satisfying umami flavor, protein, and a serious omega-3 boost.

Since sardines are much lower in mercury and other toxins, they’re my go-to over tuna (Darya’s too). My two-year-old loves them and eats them straight up out of the can (personally I prefer them mixed into dishes like pasta and egg salad).

For this pasta dish, I was inspired by the broccolini and summer squash at the farmers market, but feel free to mix it up and grill any assortment of summer favorites. Red peppers, eggplant, fennel, and asparagus are other reliable grill-time staples.

If you’re feeding a small army, I recommend doubling this recipe. It makes great leftovers and can be served cold as a salad for lunch the next day.

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies and Sardines

Serves 4

  • 8 ounces spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • 3/4 cup favorite pesto (homemade Kale Hazelnut Pesto)
  • 1 bunch broccolini 
  • 2 zucchini or summer squash, halved lengthwise
  • 1 yellow onion, halved, remove papery skin
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (4.375 ounces) sardines in olive oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • salt and ground black pepper

In a large salad bowl toss the cooked spaghetti with the pesto (while the spaghetti is still warm).

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Drizzle olive oil on the veggies and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place veggies on the grill and cook until grill marks appear, rotating every 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into bite-size pieces.

Add the grilled veggies, sardines, and Parmesan to the pasta and toss to combine while breaking the sardines into pieces. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Elyse Kopecky is a whole foods chef currently co-authoring a cookbook for runners, Run Fast Eat Slow, with Olympic marathoner and longtime friend, Shalane Flanagan. After 10 years working for Nike and EA Sports, Elyse decided to pursue her passion for talking and writing about food. She went to NYC to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute and has taken cooking classes throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Sign-up for sneak peeks of Shalane and Elyse’s book at or follow along @ElyseKopecky.



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8 Responses to “Foodist Approved: Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Veggies and Sardines Recipe”

  1. Tayla says:

    This recipe looks amazing! What a great way to use produce from my garden and incorporate the secret ingredient – sardines! Thanks for a great recipe idea 🙂

  2. Wendy Laubach says:

    I love sardines, straight out of the can or on crackers, or really just about any way. We always keep several cans in the pantry for an emergency meal. Great on camping trips, too.

  3. AJ says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I’m always looking for yummy ways to prepare/incorporate sardines. What are your favorite canned sardines?

  4. Hello Elyse,

    Amazing mouth watering recipe, I really impressed with your recipe, If I have some time this weekend then I will diffidently try this recipe at my home. Thanks a lot for sharing such a great pasta recipe with us.

  5. Mary says:

    I just made this tonight! Better than I even imagined.

  6. Emily says:

    Been looking for ways to encorporate sardines into my diet, thanks!

  7. Ronda Miles says:

    Tried it! So delicious! Thank you for the recipe

  8. Bryson Fico says:

    We love your pesto recipe. The sardines added unique twist and the broccolini is perfect – better than standard broccoli.

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