Pesto pasta salad is easy to make, full of flavor, and hard to resist!
In this fresh, easy side dish, pasta is tossed with fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, and basil in a quick creamy pesto dressing.
It’s perfect for cookouts, picnics, and parties or an easy lunch or dinner!
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, smoked salmon or even sliced salami!
- Potluck perfect, this easy meal is a favorite at BBQs and get-togethers, too.
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 fresh mozzarella pearls 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.
How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad
- Cook Pasta: Boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions.
- Prep Dressing: Mix dressing ingredients in a bowl per the recipe below.
- Mix & Chill: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl & refrigerate before serving.
Make Ahead & Leftovers
To make ahead, prepare all ingredients a day or two ahead of time and store them separately. Toss together a few hours before serving.
Store leftover pesto pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If using homemade pesto and store for up to 3 days.
Did you make this Pesto Pasta Salad? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 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
- ½ cup pesto* see notes
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente and drain well. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
- In a small bowl, whisk pesto, mayonnaise, and red wine vinegar.
- In a large bowl, combine the drained pasta, grape tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives. Add the dressing and toss well to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
- Chop fresh basil and sprinkle on top just before serving
- 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.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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