This PESTO PASTA SALAD has the most savory taste with delicious pesto, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella in every bite. Perfect for potlucks, get-togethers, or as a weeknight side dish. You’ll love its simplicity and scrumptious flavor!
Looking for something new to bring to your next get-together? You have to try this PESTO PASTA SALAD! It’s an easy throw-together dish that has both looks and taste. Plus if you add some grilled chicken, you have yourself a real meal! Umm easy and delicious- yes please!
PASTA: the noodle choice is up to you! Make it simple with a classic macaroni, go fancy with bowtie, or use rotini like me. Any will work and taste delicious.
CHERRY TOMATOES: I like the look of cherry tomatoes plus they’re so much easier to use. Just slice in half or even keep them whole if you prefer. But dicing up a larger tomato won’t change the flavor at all.
FRESH MOZZARELLA: typically you can purchase this in two different ways- in balls or in a log as pictured. Any way will work. You will just want the mozzarella to be bite-sized so you can easily pick it up with a fork. I don’t really think that the shredded mozzarella that is commonly purchased in bags is as good in this dish. It’s much less soft and is coated with flour so it gives it a stranger taste.
OLIVES: let me be honest- olives aren’t really my thing. But my husband adores them so I always add them. He says it’s essential if you are an olive person. But if you’re more like me, skip them.
PESTO: homemade or canned will absolutely work and the amount is definitely to taste- add more or less to your liking. BUT I have tried so many pre-made pesto sauces out there and BY FAR Rana Basil Pesto is the best tasting (totally not sponsored but would love to be!). It is so good with the perfect amount of garlic for this garlic lover. Look for it in the refrigerated section at your grocery store. You won’t regret it!
HOW TO MAKE PESTO PASTA SALAD
COOK– pasta according to directions, preferably al dente. It’s a little underwhelming to eat if you have very limp noodles. Then drain and rinse with cold water.
SLICE – tomatoes in half.
CHOP– mozzarella into bite-size pieces if you’re using a log. If using the balls/pearls, you can slice the mozzarella in half or keep them whole.
COMBINE– all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill until serving. Then devour it!
PASTA– almost any pasta shape will work.
TOMATOES & OLIVES– Cherry or Roma works best because they seem to be the least juicy. Black olives pair better than green and whole or sliced work well. Feel free to omit either of these though if you prefer.
CHICKEN– make it a meal by adding some grilled or baked chicken. I’ve definitely had this for a meal several times!
SEASONINGS– add some extra seasonings if you prefer such as diced onion or fresh basil.
Pesto Pasta Salad is fairly inexpensive and quick to make but I am always looking for ideas to save money or time. Here are a couple of ways this could help you if this recipe is out of budget or you are on a time crunch:
- use homemade pesto sauce. Pesto is can be frozen also so that could save you time and money.
- use whatever tomato is the best price and readily available.
- eliminate tomatoes or olives to save a little.
- meal prep- lasts up to 3 days in the refrigerator. You may need to freshen it up with a little more pesto the longer it sits.
You could use whole wheat pasta in this dish will good results. Also, reduce the amount of pesto to 1/2 or 3/4 cups to lower the calorie count.
PESTO PASTA SALAD
- 1 lb rotini pasta noodles
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 2.25 oz can black olives sliced and drained
- 16 oz fresh mozzarella cut into 1" pieces or use pearl balls
- 1 cup pesto
- 1 pinch salt optional
- Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in large bowl.
- Add tomatoes, mozzarella, olives, and pesto to the bowl. Mix all together until combined. Add pinch of salt if necessary.
- Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.