This hearty Pesto Pasta Salad is filled with fresh veggies, cheese, and crunchy pine nuts. The perfectly cooked pasta is coated in a delicious pesto dressing that pulls everything together and tastes delicious!
Pasta salads are the best kind of salads, am I right? This delicious and hearty Pesto Pasta Salad is full of all the best things like crunchy veggies, fresh herbs, mozzarella cheese, and plenty of grated parmesan.
The best part? This pasta salad is made with ingredients you likely already have on hand in your pantry and fridge. It’s also easy to customize and make gluten and dairy free if that’s something you need.
Serve the pasta salad on it’s own or pair it with your favorite protein for a delicious meal. You’ll love this recipe!
Pasta Salad Ingredients
Pasta: any pasta will do but you want to pick one that has a good amount of nooks and crannies to it. That way the dressing and all the delicious flavor sticks to the pasta. Some of my personal favorites are farfalle, cavatappi, and penne. If you need to keep this recipe gluten free, simply swap the pasta for your favorite gluten free variety.
Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumber: these veggies are bright, juicy, and refreshing!
Arugula: this leafy green gives the pasta salad just a little peppery bite.
Red Onion: a little finely chopped red onion adds some delicious flavor to this pasta salad.
Grilled Artichoke Hearts: if you’ve never had grilled artichoke hearts then you’re in for such a treat. They’re usually marinated in herbs and spices, grilled, and so flavorful!
Cheese: we’re using a combination of grated parmesan and bocconcini (mozzarella balls) for this recipe. Leave it out or use your favorite dairy free option instead to keep this pasta salad vegan.
Fresh Basil: there’s plenty of fresh basil all throughout this yummy pasta salad which gives it the best flavor.
Pine Nuts: you can’t have a pesto pasta salad without a handful of crunchy pine nuts.
Pesto Dressing: to tie everything together this pasta salad is coated in a homemade pesto dressing made from fresh basil, pine nuts, and garlic.
How to Make the Best Pesto Dressing
(full list of ingredients in the recipe card, below)
red wine vinegar
fresh basil leaves
pine nuts (toasted would be lovely!)
salt and pepper
Once you have all of the ingredients, just add them each to a high-powered blender and blend until the dressing is smooth, creamy, and the pine nuts are broken down.
How to Make This Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
(full instructions in the recipe card, below)
Step One: Cook the dry pasta according to the package instructions. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and rinse with cold water.
Step Two: Next, add the pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, arugula, red onion, artichoke hearts, mozzarella balls, pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, and parmesan cheese to a large mixing bowl.
Step Three: Next, make the dressing. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper to a high powered blender or food processor and blend until well combined.
Step Four: Pour the dressing over the salad and stir until well combined.
Step Five: Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Tips for the Perfect Pasta Salad
Don’t over cook your pasta. Cook the pasta al dente so that it still has a bit of bite.
Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water to remove any excess starch before adding it to your mixing bowl.
Salt your water while cooking the pasta to ensure that it has plenty of flavor.
Dice the red onion well. To ensure you don’t have huge chunks of red onion in your pasta salad be sure to give it a small chop.
Feel free to get creative and add other veggies to this pasta salad that you love. Chopped zucchini or yellow squash would be delicious.
How to Store
Store this pasta salad, sealed in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best store bought dressing for pasta salad?
Don’t have time to make your own dressing? You can use a bottle of your favorite Italian salad dressing or any other dressing that you think would work well.
What to serve with your pasta salad?
I love to pair this pasta salad with a protein, like chicken, fish, or beef to make a heartier meal. Here are a few great recipes that would pair perfectly with this pasta salad:
I hope you give this Pesto Pasta Salad a try! It’s delicious, flavorful, and so easy to make!
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