Pesto Pasta Salad is a favorite for a summer picnic, barbecue or even a potluck! Bright pesto, mozzarella cheese balls (AKA bocconcini), sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives are the perfect combination! I love pasta salad recipes and this is definitely near the top of my list!
How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad combines our favorite Italian inspired ingredients in a creamy pesto dressing! Juicy ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and olives and zesty sundried tomatoes and the perfect combination.
- Pasta: Cook pasta al dente (‘to the bite’). Cool and set aside. Any medium pasta shape should work just fine!
- Dressing: Whisk together pesto, mayonnaise, and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
- Mix: Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and season with basil, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
Add Protein for a Full Meal
I love an Italian Pasta Salad and we often add proteins to for a complete meal on a warm summer night. Grilled chicken breasts are the perfect addition to this recipe to make it a full meal! Shrimp is another great addition.
I prefer to use homemade pesto to make the easy dressing for this pasta salad but store bought will work too. Use any leftover pesto to marinate your meats before grilling.
If using homemade pesto, the pasta salad and leftover pesto should be refrigerated immediately and be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. If stored longer, there is a risk that the garlic, which has extremely low acidity, may produce botulism, a serious toxin, and this is not a risk worth taking.
Leftover Pasta Salad
This pasta salad will last for 4-5 days in the fridge. If you know you’ll be storing this for a few days, don’t halve the cherry/grape tomatoes, keep them whole.
If using homemade pesto, the pasta salad should be refrigerated immediately and only kept for 2-3 days. If stored longer, there is a risk that the garlic may produce botulism.
Can Pasta Salad be Frozen? Pasta salad is best eaten fresh. Fresh veggies and pasta can often become mushy when frozen and defrosted.
More Delicious Pasta Salads
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad – Reader favorite!
- BLT Pasta Salad – loaded with fresh veggies.
- Avocado Pasta Salad – rich, creamy and totally delicious.
- Caesar Pasta Salad – two of my favorites combined!
- Cobb Pasta Salad – fully loaded!
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces tortiglioni or rotini pasta cooked and cooled
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes diced
- ½ cup small mozzarella balls
- ½ cup kalamata olives pitted
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- salt & pepper to taste
- ½ cup pesto*
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Mix pesto, mayonnaise and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
- Combine pasta, 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
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)