Deliciously fresh and full of flavor, this summer pesto pasta salad is the perfect barbecue side dish, light lunch or pot luck dish. An easy pasta salad recipe that everyone will enjoy.
If you're making homemade pesto then this dish is more likely to be made closer to the warmer months due to the availability of fresh basil.
You could always use store-bought pesto (it's obviously not as good though).
❤️ Why you'll love it
- It's really easy to make it.
- Takes less than 15 minutes.
- Totally fresh ingredients and perfect for backyard barbecues.
- Add a little grilled chicken and you have a meal.
- Rotini pasta
- Homemade pesto sauce
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sliced kalamata olives
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Mozzarella Pearls
See recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities.
This is an overview of the recipe steps. For more detailed instructions visit the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Step 1: Cook the rotini noodles per the package instructions, then drain and rinse under cold water.
- Step 2: Add the pesto sauce and stir well to combine.
- Step 3: Add the pesto soaked noodles to a large mixing bowl and add the other salad ingredients.
- Step 4: Mix well with some salad utensils.
Hint: Make sure you have rinsed the noodles and they are cold before mixing with the other ingredients. Warm pasta will make them wilt.
🔄 Substitutions and Variations
- Red Onion - it tastes great in any salad.
- Green Onions - milder than red onion for sure.
- Spinach - use spinach leaves instead of arugula.
- Basil Leaves - stick with basil leaves instead of arugula, to give that caprese pasta salad feel.
- Feta Cheese - instead of mozzarella cheese.
- Pine Nuts - to add some texture.
- Parmesan Cheese - sprinkle with some of this for some saltiness.
- Black Pepper - for spice and earthiness.
- Grape Tomatoes - instead of cherry tomatoes.
- Lemon Zest - to add a little zest and freshness.
- Sun-dried Tomatoes - for sweetness.
- Pasta Noodles - use any type of pasta noodles - your favorite is fine.
- Artichoke Hearts - these add a great new level to this pasta salad.
- Red Pepper Flakes - A pinch of red pepper flakes for heat.
- Olive Oil - a drizzle of olive oil is sometimes nice on any salad.
- Green Olives - instead of black olives.
- Bell Pepper - add some sliced bell pepper for more color and flavors.
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You'll need a saucepan to cook the noodles, and a large mixing bowl to mix the ingredients.
You could always mix the ingredients directly in a salad bowl (I always manage to make a mess so prefer to mix before adding to a salad bowl.
A pair of salad utensils is nice too (the spoon and fork).
I have some affiliate links in the recipe card below.
📘 Related Recipes
- Pesto Dressing
- Late Summer Pasta Salad
- Tuna Pasta Salad
- Southern Seafood Salad
- Ruby Tuesday Ham and Pea Pasta Salad
- KFC Macaroni Salad Recipe
Store this summer pesto pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Expert Tip: Any pasta salad recipe tastes great the next day, this recipe is no exception. If you have the time, you could make up the noodles with the pesto a day ahead, then assemble the salad right before needing it, for maximum flavor.
Some great crusty bread, or a garlic bread is great. Serve with some chicken breasts, or grilled fish.
Due to the fact that this is a pasta salad, it is best served cold. Or room temperature.
If you’ve tried this Summer Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe or any other great recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section below, how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers!
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Summer Pesto Pasta Salad
A deliciously fresh and flavorful summer pesto pasta salad that is a perfect side at any barbecue or by itself as a light lunch.
- 1lb Rotini Pasta
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 Cup Homemade Pesto Sauce
- 10oz Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- ½ Large Cucumber, halved and sliced
- 2oz Can (drained) Sliced Black Olives
- 8oz Mozzarella Pearls
- ½ Cup Arugula Leaves
- Cook the rotini pasta as the package instructs, in salted water, then drain and rinse under cold water.
- Add the noodles to a large mixing bowl, along with the pesto sauce and mix well until evenly coated.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients and mix well.
Add more of your favorite salad items at will (e.g. red onion).
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 472Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 40mgSodium 521mgCarbohydrates 31gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 18g
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