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overhead shot of pesto pasta in a white bowl with a hand and fork diving in
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5 from 6 votes

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.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time18 mins
Course: Lunch, Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6
Calories: 427kcal
Cost: £2 / $2.50

Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • Large Pot & Colander (for pasta)
  • Large Mixing Bowl & Spatula
  • Salad Tongs
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board

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 / 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

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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

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. Pesto is always best served at room temp.
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

Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.98g | Protein: 15.44g | Fat: 30.04g | Saturated Fat: 4.592g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6.299g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16.899g | Trans Fat: 0.082g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 544mg | Potassium: 553mg | Fiber: 5.7g | Sugar: 5.43g | Vitamin A: 1700IU | Vitamin C: 7.4mg | Calcium: 350mg | Iron: 2.7mg