Pesto Pasta Salad

Quick and EasyVegetarianPasta and NoodlesPesto

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

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

When it’s the season for potluck barbecues, 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.

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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 tablespoons 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 tablespoon extra virgin 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

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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26 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Matthew

    We love this salad. We make a big batch most weeks which my daughter loves and takes for school lunch.


  2. Mark

    First I made your pesto, which was great. Then followed this recipe to use up the remaining pesto. I added diced red bell pepper and cucumber as well. I’ll be making it again.
    Thanks for the great recipes.


  3. 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:-)

  4. 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!


  5. 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

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