Whether you’re looking for a refreshing lunch or a dish to bring to a potluck, this pesto pasta salad is delicious and easy to make. Made with basil pesto tossed in perfectly cooked pasta noodles, this recipe comes together in under 30 minutes!
From start-to-finish, this pesto pasta salad recipe only takes 30 minutes to pull together. It’s perfect for quick meals to eat throughout the week or last-minute get-togethers. Serve this salad as a side dish or on its own.
How to make pesto pasta salad
In 3 easy steps, you’ll have a delicious pasta salad. Detailed ingredient measurements, instructions, and notes can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page, but here’s is a quick summary:
1. Cook the Pasta. Prepare the pasta noodles according to the directions on the packaging. As soon as it's done, drain and poor under cool running water
2. Make the pesto. In a food processor, combine the fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth and creamy. Scoop out of the food processor and set aside.
3. Assemble the pasta salad. In a large bowl, combine noodles, pesto, and the remaining ingredients. Toss until it's well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Storing for later
This pesto pasta salad keeps well for up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Be sure to mix, taste, and season before serving, if needed.
You can also easily adapt this pasta salad to your favorite ingredients. And if you have dietary needs, just substitute or exclude a few ingredients.
- Vegan: Just remove the mozzarella cheese.
- Gluten-free: Use gluten-free pasta noodles. Be sure to follow the cooking ingredients that come on the packaging.
- Nut-free: Skip the pine nuts and add a handful of extra greens.
- Greens: Don't have fresh basil? Use another leafy green, such as kale or spinach.
More easy pasta recipes
Pasta salads are just one way to enjoy summer. Here’s a few other salads to enjoy.
Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published on August 10, 2020. Since then, it’s been freshened up with new pictures and more details to help you make the recipe.
- 1 pound pasta, such as cavatelli or penne
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup finely chopped red onion
- ¼ cup chopped pepperoncini
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 3 cups basil leaves
- ½ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Be sure to check the package for recommended cook time. Drain and rinse well under cold water.
- Make the pesto. While the pasta cooks, prepare the basil pesto. In a food processor, combine the fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth and creamy. Scoop out of the food processor and set aside.
- Assemble the pasta salad. In a large bowl, combine noodles, pesto, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, pepperoncini, and parsley. Toss until it's well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
- Chill before serving. Pasta salad gets better as it rests. For the best flavor, mix and refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes. This is why this salad tastes even better the next day.