Pesto Pasta Salad

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

  • Marc Chambaud

    This recipe is great. Actually one of my favorite(I am a big pesto lover). You know what would blend well with this? What i prepared in 15 min yesterday. Yesterday i did roughly the same thing but as a gratin. I added Goat cheese,pin nuts and emmental cheese on top. I like when the Pasta are a bit crunchy so i first put the pasta on the fry pan before putting everything in a pot and in the oven. Man it was delicious, my wife loved is and the cherry on the cake the kids loved it:-)

  • Juanita

    I love this recipe and I hold it near and dear to my heart because it was a few years ago that I discovered Simply by “googling” pesto pasta salad and coming across this recipe! Great recipe and a great blog!

  • Nora

    I want to make pesto (with fresh basil and pine nuts) but I do not have a food processor. Can I use the blender instead or the blender’s coffee grinder attachment?

    A coffee grinder attachment might work. You could also use a mortar and pestle, or just chop everything very fine. ~Elise

  • constance

    De-lish!!! :-))

  • Liz

    I LOVE this recipe. This is wonderful recipe and I could eat it all :) but my husband keeps reminding me that he is in the room too. Very easy to make and I use your pesto recipe too. Thank you!!!!

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