Pesto pasta salad is easy to make, full of flavor, and hard to resist!

In this fresh summer pasta salad recipe, we mix corkscrew pasta (or your fave shape!), mozzarella, and two kinds of tomatoes in a quick creamy pesto dressing.

Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy pasta salads for a quick and cool meal at cook-outs, picnics, and parties!

pesto pasta salad in a bowl with parsley

An Easy Meal or Side

  • Make ahead, chill, and serve when ready. Easy peasy!
  • This salad is pretty to look at and delicious.
  • Enjoy as a meatless main dish or add in chicken, bay shrimp, or smoked salmon!
  • Potluck perfect, this easy meal is a favorite at BBQs and get togethers too.

Ingredients

PASTA – Choose pasta with ridges, twists, or tubes for the dressing to cling to. Tortiglioni/cavatappi (corkscrew), farfalle (bow-tie), penne, fusilli, or rotini are all excellent choices for this salad.

PESTO – Pre-made pesto sauce is easy to find at almost any store! Homemade pesto with herbs, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil is quick to make in a food processor. Or try an herb basil pesto or homemade kale pesto.

CHEESE – Soft fresh mozzarella can be found in small balls, AKA “bocconcini”. Cut cocktail size in half or use pearl mozzarella if you’d like (or even a sprinkle of feta cheese). A large ball of mozzarella can be cut into small cubes, if necessary.

VEGGIES: Grape or cherry tomatoes add a fresh tang to this pesto pasta salad recipe. Add your summertime favorites from corn off the cob to fresh spinach, red onion, or even diced cucumbers.

Pesto Pasta Salad ingredients in a bowl

How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad

  1. Cook Pasta: Boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions.
  2. Prep Dressing: Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl per the recipe below.
  3. Mix & Chill: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl & refrigerate before serving.

Serve with homemade garlic bread or crostini on the side & croutons on top.

Pesto Pasta Salad in a bowl with a fork

Make Ahead & Leftovers

To make ahead, prepare all ingredients a day or two ahead of time and store separately. Toss together a few hours before serving.

Leftover pasta salad will last for a few days in the fridge in an airtight container. If you plan to store leftovers in the refrigerator, keep the cherry/grape tomatoes whole so they stay fresh. Pesto pasta salad should be refrigerated immediately if using homemade pesto, and only kept for 2-3 days.

More Mediterranean Inspired Pasta Salads

Did you make this Pesto Pasta Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

pesto pasta salad in a bowl with parsley
5 from 17 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Pesto Pasta Salad

This refreshing pesto pasta salad is the perfect combination of pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes, and olives, all mixed in with a flavorful pesto dressing!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients  

  • 8 ounces cavatappi or rotini pasta
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes diced
  • ½ cup small mozzarella balls
  • ½ cup kalamata olives pitted
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh basil

Dressing

  • ½ cup pesto* see notes
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Instructions 

  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Drain well and rinse under cold water.
  • Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Combine pasta, grape tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
  • Chop fresh basil and sprinkle on top just before serving

Notes

  • Rinse the pasta in cold water to stop it from cooking.
  • As the salad sits, it will absorb dressing so be sure to dress generously.
  • Optional additions include parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, capers, or a squeeze of lemon juice.
*If using homemade pesto, the pasta salad and leftover pesto should be refrigerated and consumed within 2-3 days to reduce the risk of botulism.
 
5 from 17 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 338 | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 449mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 760IU | Vitamin C: 5.4mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 1.2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Pasta, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian

Like our recipes?
Follow us on Pinterest!

Follow us on Pinterest

cold Pesto Pasta Salad in a bowl with a title
plated Pesto Pasta Salad with writing
mixed Pesto Pasta Salad in a bowl with writing
Pesto Pasta Salad in glass bowl and plated with writing

Categories:

, , , ,

Recipes you'll love

About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
See more posts by Holly

Follow Holly on social media:

pinterest facebook twitter instagram

Free eBook!

Subscribe to receive weekly recipes and get a FREE Bonus e-book: Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals!

You can unsubscribe anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of emails you receive.

latest & greatest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. This was such a nice surprising departure from typical mayonnaise pasta salads. I made it for our Bloc party and everyone loved it. It was awesome even two days later. I will be making this instead of the typical boring macaroni salad5 stars

  2. VERY TASTY! I always use Cavatappi pasta. I like to make homemade Pesto, b/c the Pesto in a jar from the store has waaay too much sodium. Great recipe….Thanx :-)5 stars