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Pesto Pasta Salad

pesto pasta salad bowtie pasta with pine nuts and fresh basil on top

I have made my share of homemade pesto this summer due to the abundance of fresh basil growing in our garden. Pesto is one of my favorite things to make with basil. It goes great with so many dishes like this pesto pasta salad. Not only that, but it is also fabulous on a sandwich, pizza, or even spoon on some fish or chicken.

This pesto pasta salad came into fruition after wanted to create a dish that can be made ahead of time and can be eaten as a side to many meals. I noticed how much you guys have been enjoying my Bulgar salad which is also a fabulous easy cold make-ahead side dish. I knew I wanted to share another side with you for the summer. This vegetarian recipe is amazing on its own but also goes fabulously paired next to BBQ or some chicken and shrimp.

What Pasta is best for this pasta salad?

As you know, there are so many different types of pasta. For this particular salad, I would highly recommend a short pasta such as fusilli, penne, elbow, farafalle, rigotoni, and or bowtie just to name a few. These pasta type have crevices that will house the pesto which will really add that flavor you want!

What is Pesto?

Pesto is a creamy green sauce that has dynamic flavor. Typically pesto has a green veggie/herb, nuts, cheese, and olive oil. The most traditional pesto is made this way with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and basil. Other substituted for basil would be spinach or kale even parsley but the most flavorful and authentic is definitely basil and that is what I recommend. Also, if you have a pine nut allergy; feel free to use slivered almonds!

pesto pasta salad bowtie pasta with pine nuts and fresh basil on top
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Pesto Pasta Salad

This is the perfect make-ahead summer salad that goes with almost everything making it a great side dish too. It is vibrant, tasty, and requires no time at all!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: cold pasta dish, Fufus Kitchen, homemade pesto, pasta recipes, pasta salad, pesto, pesto pasta salad
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Heifa


  • 12 oz Pasta of choice cooked, Bowtie, Fusilli, Penne reccomended
  • 1 cup Fresh Mozzerella cubed
  • 1/4 cup Sundried Tomatoes chopped, highly recommended
  • 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes Charred on the stove top, halved, see notes
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives pitted, chopped
  • Pine Nuts for garnish
  • Fresh lemon squeeze for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper for garnish

Homemade Pesto

  • 2 cups Fresh Basil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepepr Flakes
  • 1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1 Lemon's Juice
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


  • In a food processor, blend together all the pesto ingredients until you have a creamy sauce.
  • Add this to the cooked pasta. Toss together.
  • Add the fresh mozzarrela, tomatoes, and olives. Do another quick toss. Feel free to add more or fewer olives, mozzarella, and tomatoes. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice, pine nuts, and a touch of salt and pepper. It is best enjoyed cold. Keep fresh in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy for up to 5 days.


To char the tomatoes will add more flavor to the tomato and therefore the entire dish. Just place the cherry tomatoes on a metal skewer and then place that on top of your stovetop charring both sides of the tomatoes. This won’t take more than a minute or two. Then, just add that to the pasta!

As always, I would love to hear what you think of this recipe! Drop a comment below once you give it a try 🙂

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