Pesto Pasta Salad
You only need 5 ingredients and 15 minutes to make this easy pesto pasta salad! It is the perfect pasta salad for summertime or busy weeknights. And it’s my go-to for a quick and easy dinner. Not only does my whole family love it, but it makes a large amount and that means a ready-to-go lunch for the next day.
This recipe was originally published on September 6, 2014. It was republished on July 11, 2019 with updated photos and recipe tips.
This quick pesto pasta salad is a must-have for all of your summer gatherings. It’s fresh, flavorful, and the whole thing can be put together in just about 15 minutes. Yes, that quick!
I love that this pesto pasta salad is full of tons of great flavors and textures, yet is easy enough to be whipped up at a moment’s notice. My kids love it too! In fact, it’s my son’s very favorite dish! The fact that it can be a side or a full meal is a plus for this mama’s busy schedule and I’m sure it will be for yours as well!
HOW DO YOU MAKE PESTO PASTA SALAD?
If you need a dish for a potluck or picnic, this pasta salad is a must. Al dente pasta is tossed with zesty feta cheese, sliced black olives, and roasted red pepper (or tomatoes), all tossed with a flavorful basil pesto to create the perfect side dish. Your friends and family will definitely be asking you for the recipe of this delicious salad.
It could not be easier to throw together. Simply cook pasta according to package instructions and while that’s cooking, chop the roasted red pepper and prepare all of the other ingredients. Once the pasta is cooked, add everything to a large serving bowl and stir well to combine. That’s seriously it. And you have yourself an absolutely divine pasta dish!
WHY THIS EASY PESTO PASTA SALAD IS SO GOOD
- This recipe has very few ingredients – only five, but still so much flavor and texture.
- This pasta salad is SUPER quick to whip up. If you’re really being speedy, you can totally have this ready to serve in 15 minutes.
- I love how versatile this dish is. I personally love halved cherry tomatoes in my pesto pasta salad, but my son is not a tomato fan, so we usually use chopped roasted red pepper instead. No biggie!
- You can add any protein you want to this recipe and really make it a complete meal. There have been many times I’ve added shredded rotisserie chicken or shrimp to this pasta and it’s fabulous.
- The salad keeps well. This recipe makes quite a large bowl of pasta salad, so if I’m just serving my family we usually have leftovers. The leftover pasta salad is just as tasty the next day. If the pasta has become a little dry, simply stir in a drizzle of olive oil and it will moisten everything back up.
TIPS & VARIATIONS
Make Ahead: Pesto pasta salad can be made up to 6 hours before you plan on serving it. Like most foods, it’s best if served immediately but will still taste great if it needs to be served later.
Change It Up: If you feel like adding more veggies to your salad, some great additions are artichoke hearts, red onion, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber slices. You can also add a boost of protein by including grilled chicken, shrimp or cubed salami.
Pasta Types: For this pesto pasta salad, any short pasta will work. I really like bowtie pasta, but other great choices are penne or rotini.
Pesto Ideas: If you can find a fresh pesto in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, it has much better and bolder flavor than the jarred pesto. However, for the salad you see pictured, I used Classico Basil Pesto in a jar and it was great.
LOOKING FOR MORE EASY DINNER IDEAS:
You only need 5 ingredients and 15 minutes to make this easy pesto pasta salad! It is the perfect pasta salad for summertime or busy weeknights. And it's my go-to for a quick and easy dinner. Not only does my whole family love it, but it makes a large amount and that means a ready-to-go lunch for the next day.
- 1 pound pasta*
- 6-8 ounce jar premade pesto (Any favorite variety will work. I like Classico Basil Pesto.)
- 2.25-3.8 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
- 5-6 ounces crumbled feta cheese**
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered or sliced roasted red peppers from a 16 ounce jar***
Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of salted water according to package instructions. Drain pasta, then rinse under cold water for about 20-30 seconds until no longer hot. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl.
Add all other ingredients into the mixing bowl with the pasta. Toss until all of the ingredients are evenly coated with the pesto.
Serve immediately, garnished with fresh chopped parsley and black pepper if desired. This pasta is great served warm, room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!
*Use any favorite pasta variety. Bowtie, Fusilli or Penne work best. For a gluten-free option, try a chickpea or brown rice pasta.
**Any variety of feta works, but I typically use fat free.
***For the recipe, pictured, I used the sliced roasted red peppers. Use about 2 cups from the jar, drained, and chopped.