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?
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
- Pine Nuts
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 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
- 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.
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
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Pine Nuts
- Red Onion
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
- Fresh Cherry Tomatoes
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?
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
- Chicken Pesto Grilled Cheese
- Spicy Pesto Smashed Potatoes
Righto, let’s tuck into the full pesto pasta salad recipe!
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How to make Pesto Pasta Salad (Full Recipe & Video)
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!
- 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
- 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 your pasta in salted boiling water according to packet instruction. Drain and rinse with cold water and place in a large mixing bowl.
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.
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!
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
For another easy summer pasta salad, check out my Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Pasta Salad!