Pesto Pasta Salad

Summer pesto pasta salad with fresh basil pesto, spiral pasta, pine nuts, olives, peas, and cherry tomatoes.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

The season for potluck barbecues is here and a quick and easy dish to prepare for a gathering is pesto pasta salad!

Spiral pasta catches and hold the bits of basil pesto. You can dress up the pesto and pasta with any number of things.

Cherry tomatoes, nuts, peas, and olive tapenade are what I had on hand for this particular version, but you could also add goat cheese, slivered almonds, sun-dried tomatoes, or snow peas.

What’s your favorite summer pasta salad? Let us know in the comments.

Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Prep the salad while the water is on to boil for the pasta.


  • 4 cups uncooked fusili pasta (use rice pasta for wheat-free version)
  • 1 cup fresh basil pesto
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green olives, or olive tapenade
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted (or fresh if you can get them)
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Several fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


1 Cook the pasta: Cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Make sure the water is salted (one and a half teaspoons per quart). Remove pasta from heat and strain when pasta is cooked, but still firm (al dente).

2 Toast pine nuts: While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium-high heat. Keep an eye on them because pine nuts can go from lovely and toasty to acrid and burnt in seconds.

When most of the nuts have a blush of golden brown on them, move them to a cool bowl to rest. They will burn if you leave them in the pan.

3 Mix pasta with pesto, pine nuts, olives, tomatoes, basil, olive oil: Put pasta in a big bowl. Mix in fresh basil pesto, green olives, and pine nuts. Gently mix in cherry tomatoes, peas, fresh basil leaves and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve at room temperature.

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Pesto Pasta Salad

Showing 4 of 24 Comments

  • Karen

    When the tomatoes get good, here’s one I like, and vegetarians always appreciate:

  • Mikaela

    My favourite pasta salad is this:
    Boil pasta, penne preferably, drain and let cool down. Then add just a little olive oil and stir. then add salt, pepper and dried Italian herbs to give the pasta a nice flavour. Mix with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, canned corn kernels, capsicum and whatever other veggies you might like.
    Great with chicken and Italian salad dressing.

  • kristie

    I made this last night, but left out the peas and added sundried tomatoes. My family loved it!

  • jasi

    tri-color radiatore
    sun dried tomatoes
    roasted red peppers
    oil cured olives
    artichoke hearts
    pickled jalepenos
    sliced fresh garlic
    olive oil

    Cook pasta. Dice all veggies in quantities you like best. Heat oil and garlic until fragrant. add tomatoes, jalepenos, olives, peppers and heat through. Toss with pasta and artichoke hearts. Serve warm or cold.

  • abby

    I have been looking for good salad recipes for a long time, although I am not the biggest pesto fan I finaly gave in, found the pasta pesto recipe & decided to give it a try. Everyone loved it so much! Not even one pine nut could be found in the dish! I enjoyed it just as much & plan on making it again soon.

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