Pesto Pasta Salad

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!

This is always my go-to dish to bring to a BBQ. Never fails. Everybody loves a pasta salad, but they’ll love a pesto pasta salad even more. Let’s see what all the fuss is about shall we?

overhead shot of pesto pasta in a white bowl with a hand and fork diving in

Pasta Salad with Pesto

Pesto is brilliant in the sense it goes with literally everything. Yes, even that.

I’ve written a more in depth post on Homemade Basil Pesto so check that out if you fancy. But for now, here’s what you’ll need:

Basil Pesto Ingredients

  • Fresh Basil
  • Parmesan
  • Pine Nuts
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Lemon (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper

That’s it! Such a such a simple recipe. PLUS it’s so easy to make it’s really not worth going near store bought pesto.

How to make Basil Pesto

  1. Plonk all your ingredients in a food processor apart from your oil.
  2. Turn on motor and gradually pour in oil until desired texture. Check for seasoning.

How to make Homemade Pesto in a food processor - 2 step by step photos

Pesto Pasta Salad

As simply wonderful just pesto and pasta is, we’ve gotta chuck some other goodies in there too.

Pesto Pasta Salad Ingredients

  • Pesto
  • Pasta
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Pine Nuts
  • Mozzarella
  • Red Onion
  • Olives

Very simple, but incredibly flavoursome. 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.

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

Deconstructed Pesto Pasta Salad Ingredients with labels and arrows

How to serve Pesto Pasta Salad

With pesto, unless I’m tossing it through pasta, and using starchy pasta water to create an emulsion, I don’t serve it hot. The oil separates and it just goes gross.

Having said that, I don’t serve this pasta salad cold either. I’ll always bring it to room temp before serving. It relaxes the pesto a little bit and brings it back to being a bit more ‘saucy’ and less stodgy.

Hey, whilst you’re here why not check out my other recipes?

Pesto Recipes

Righto, let’s tuck into the full pesto pasta salad recipe!

Close up shot of pesto pasta salad with focus on sun dried tomato

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How to make Pesto Pasta Salad (Full Recipe & Video)

5 from 6 votes
overhead shot of pesto pasta in a white bowl with a hand and fork diving in
Pesto Pasta Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 mins
Total Time
18 mins
 

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!

Course: Lunch, Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pesto Pasta Salad
Servings: 6
Calories: 427 kcal
Author: Chris Collins
Ingredients
Pesto
  • 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 / 35g Parmesan, grated
  • 4 tbsp Pine nuts, toasted (see notes)
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper, or to taste
Pasta Salad
  • 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
Optional Extras
  • squeeze of Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp Sun Dried Tomato Oil
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • small Basil Leaves
Method
  1. Cook your pasta in salted boiling water according to packet instruction. Drain and rinse with cold water and place in a large mixing bowl.

  2. Meanwhile, add all of your pesto ingredients to a food processor and turn on the motor. Gradually pour in extra virgin olive oil until desired texture. Test for seasoning.

  3. Pour pesto over pasta and toss through your other ingredients (with optional extras). Serve right away or cover and pop in the fridge for later.

Watch how to make it!

Recipe Notes

a) Olive Oil - Firstly, make sure it's Extra Virgin Olive Oil, not just regular olive oil. Then just work to preference as you pour it in. It'll start to form into pesto after around 1/4-1/3 cup, I just like mine a little saucier!

 

b) Toasted Pine Nuts - again, this is down to preference, but I do recommend doing it as it adds more flavour. To toast the pine nuts pop them in a dry pan over very low heat and shake occasionally until they turn golden. Careful as they turn from perfectly toasted to char in seconds!

 

c) Cherry Mozzarella - If you can't find cherry mozzarella then tear up 4.4oz / 125g fresh mozzarella.

 

d) Storage - cover and store in the fridge until needed. I recommend bringing it to room temp before serving. Do not heat in the microwave or the oil will separate and the mozzarella will melt.

 

e) Extras and Optionals - if you're looking to fill out the pasta salad a little more then consider adding the following: Charred sweetcorn, roasted red peppers, arugula/rocket, fresh cherry tomatoes.

 

f) Calories - Per serving, using 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 4 tbsp pine nuts and no extra fillings

Nutrition Facts
Pesto Pasta Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 427 Calories from Fat 270
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30.04g 46%
Saturated Fat 4.592g 23%
Trans Fat 0.082g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6.299g
Monounsaturated Fat 16.899g
Cholesterol 12mg 4%
Sodium 544mg 23%
Potassium 553mg 16%
Total Carbohydrates 27.98g 9%
Dietary Fiber 5.7g 23%
Sugars 5.43g
Protein 15.44g 31%
Vitamin A 34%
Vitamin C 9%
Calcium 35%
Iron 15%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

For another easy summer pasta salad, check out my Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Pasta Salad!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad with fresh parsley in a glass bowl

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!

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Juli
    June 2, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    You pretty much can’t go wrong with anything pesto. I can’t wait to try it with the corn and rocket additions you suggested.

    • Reply
      Chris
      June 2, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      Oh yay! Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Jill
    June 2, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Homemade pesto is one of my favorite parts of the summer. This pasta salad looks delicious!

    • Reply
      Chris
      June 2, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      You seriously can’t beat homemade pesto can you!?

  • Reply
    Natalie
    June 2, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    I love pasta salads! Looks so delicious and perfect for a quick summer lunch!

    • Reply
      Chris
      June 2, 2019 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks Natalie! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rosa
    June 2, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    Mmmm everything about this sounds so delicious. I love pesto, can’t wait to try it!

    • Reply
      Chris
      June 2, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      Enjoy! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lisa
    June 2, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Such a great salad for summer! And love all those flavors!

    • Reply
      Chris
      June 2, 2019 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks Lisa 🙂

  • Reply
    Shams
    June 3, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Beyond hungry, of course, do you know what your posts make me feel? Happy! I will try this soon.

    • Reply
      Chris
      June 4, 2019 at 4:46 pm

      Yay! Enjoy! 🙂

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