This Pesto Pasta Salad truly is the ultimate Summer Pasta Salad. Packed with Homemade Pesto, Mozzarella, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts, it’s a total explosion of flavours!
Pasta Salad Pesto
Whilst all the ingredients in this pasta salad get their chance to shine, the pesto really is the star of the show. Pesto is brilliant in the sense it goes with literally everything. Yes, even that. But honestly, there’s few things that go better than pesto and pasta.
I’ve written a more in depth post on Homemade Basil Pesto which is packed with tips and tricks to making the BEST pesto, so check that out if you fancy. But for now, here’s what you’ll need:
Basil Pesto Ingredients
- Fresh Basil
- Pine Nuts
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Lemon (optional)
- Salt & Pepper
How to make Basil Pesto (quick summary)
- Plonk all your ingredients in a food processor apart from your oil.
- Turn on motor and gradually pour in oil until desired texture. Check for seasoning.
BEST Pesto Pasta Salad
As simply wonderful just pesto and pasta is, we’ve gotta chuck some other goodies in there too. I like to go down the antipasti kind of route with the fillings, but if you want to experiment with different ones go for it! Here’s what I like in my pesto pasta salad:
Pesto Pasta Salad Ingredients
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Pine Nuts
- Red Onion
Very simple, but incredibly flavoursome.If you’re looking to pack the salad out a little more, then I’ve personally added these before and they go perfectly: Roasted Red Peppers, Charred Sweetcorn, Rocket/Arugula, Fresh Cherry Tomatoes. To take things to the next level flavour-wise consider adding the following: squeeze of Lemon Juice, extra Basil Leaves, 1 tbsp Sun Dried Tomato Oil.
What is the best pasta for pesto sauce?
If you’re eating it warm, you can really use any type you fancy, but for a pasta salad I generally stick to short cut pasta. Something like Penne or Fusilli works great. This time round I’ve gone a bit ‘fancy’ and used Fusillata Casareccia (you’ll still find it in most supermarkets).
Can u make pasta salad the night before?
Absolutely! In fact I encourage it. It gives time for the flavours to marry together. Just cover and pop in the fridge over night then bring to room temp and give it a stir before serving.
How to serve Pesto Pasta Salad
Can pesto pasta be eaten cold?
You can totally eat it cold if you fancy, but overall I would recommend it at room temp. It relaxes the pesto a little bit and brings it back to being a bit more ‘saucy’ and less stodgy. Not a deal breaker though.
When to serve pesto pasta salad?
Pesto pasta salad is perfect for BBQs or potluck, or even just as a lunch for you and a few!
What can I put pesto on besides pasta?
If you’re looking for other ideas to use up that homemade pesto, it goes great in Cheesy Pesto Garlic Bread and Chicken Pesto Grilled Cheese. Pesto is incredibly versatile and goes great on a variety of different chicken, fish, and veggies!
Alternative Pesto Recipes
Righto, let’s tuck into the full pesto pasta salad recipe shall we?!
How to make Pesto Pasta Salad (Full Recipe & Video)
Pesto Pasta Salad
- Food Processor
- Large Pot & Colander (for pasta)
- Large Mixing Bowl & Spatula
- Salad Tongs
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
Ingredients (check list):
- 2 large handfuls Fresh Basil Leaves (approx 2 packed cups worth)
- 1/2 cup - 2/3 cup (125ml - 150ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or as needed (see notes)
- 1/2 cup / 40g Parmesan, freshly grated
- 4 tbsp Pine Nuts, toasted (see notes)
- 1 small clove Garlic
- 1/4 tsp Salt, or to taste
- 1/8 tsp Black Pepper, or to taste
- 12.3oz / 350g Fusillata Casareccia, or other short cut pasta
- 1.25 cups / 125g Sun Dried Tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 cup / 50g Mixed Olives, halved
- 3-4 tbsp Pine Nuts, toasted
- 20 Cherry Mozzarella Balls (see notes)
- 1/2 small Red Onion, very thinly sliced
- squeeze of Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Sun Dried Tomato Oil
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- small Basil Leaves
- Cook 12.3oz/350g pasta in salted boiling water according to packet instruction. Drain and rinse with cold water and place in a large mixing bowl.
- Meanwhile, add 2 packed cups of fresh basil leaves, 1/2cup/40g, 4 tbsp pine nuts, 1 small clove garlic and seasoning (to taste) in a food processor and turn on the motor. Gradually pour in extra virgin olive oil until desired texture. Test for seasoning.
- Pour pesto over pasta and toss through 1.25cups/125g sliced sun dried tomatoes, 20 mini mozzarella balls, 1/2 sliced small red onion, 1/2cup/50g olives and 3-4tbsp pine nuts (and optional extras). Serve right away or cover and pop in the fridge for later.
Quick 1 min demo!
If you loved this Pesto Pasta Salad then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!