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!
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.
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.
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 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
- 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
- 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
- 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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