This Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad tastes like summer.  Perfect for a light dinner on its own, or serve as a side dish with grilled protein and definitely picnic-worthy!  It is simple to make, vegan, and gluten-free adaptable. With a Video!

Pesto Pasta Salad w/ cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella, olives & fresh basil tossed in a Creamy Pesto Dressing. Vegan, gluten-free adaptable. #pestopasta #pestopastasalad

Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness. ~Yousuf Karsh

Here is a delicious recipe for  Pesto Pasta Salad.  Flavorful tender noodles dressed with luscious Creamy Pesto Dressing.  Greek yogurt and a little mayo give the dressing delicious tangy flavor and healthy sauciness.  Green olives and fresh mozzarella pearls give rich texture.  Topped with fresh garden tomatoes and basil leaves just before serving, this salad is with bright summer goodness.

ingredients in pasta salad

Pesto Pasta Salad Video

Tips for making a good pasta salad:

  • Stick to bite-size shapes for cold salads with nooks and crannies to hold the dressing.
  • A uniform noodle cooks more evenly (then say like bow tie pasta tends to get overdone on the edges and still underdone in the center and will fall apart in your salad).
  • Cook in salted water a little past al dente.  Pasta firms up when it is cold, cooking just a minute or two longer will keep it tender and moist.  A little salt adds so much flavor.
  • Toss drained and unrinsed hot pasta with oil and lemon (or vinegar) to infuse with flavor and create succulent texture.

How to make Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad:

Step One:  Boil pasta according to package directions, adding a minute or two.

pasta cooling on a sheet pan

Drain cooked pasta in a colander.  Do not rinse!

Return to pot and toss with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, which will infuse the pasta with flavor and keep the noodles more pliable when chilled.  Lay it out on a sheet pan to cool.

dressing ingredients in a bowl

Step two:  Mix together Fresh Basil Pesto (follow link for our easy recipe), with greek yogurt, mayo, lemon juice and salt.  That’s it, dressing done!

creamy pesto dressing

This luscious creamy dressing is easy to find uses for… try with grilled veggies or raw veggies, use for salad dressing, or as a sandwich spread.  Seriously endless possibilities!

pasta in a bowl with chopped veggies ready to mix in

Step three:  Mix Creamy Pesto Dressing with cooled pasta, olives, and mozzarella pearls.  Make-ahead up to this point and store in the fridge.

pasta ingredients in a bowl

Step four:  Add tomatoes and torn basil just before serving.

Pesto Pasta Salad w/ cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella, olives & fresh basil tossed in a Creamy Pesto Dressing. Vegan, gluten-free adaptable.

Garnish with Urfa Biber, red pepper flakes or Aleppo.

This Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad tastes like summer.  Perfect for a light dinner on its own, or serve as a side dish with grilled protein and definitely picnic-worthy!  It is simple to make, vegan, and gluten-free adaptable.

Hopefully, this Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad will inspire you to pack a picnic and enjoy a little outside time with friends and family.

I have been inspired this summer to spend most of my days outside.  Everything seems better when my bare feet connect with the earth.  Time slows, my senses awaken and my worries fade a bit.  Wishing for you some carefree summer moments, let your senses receive all that is out there waiting for you to notice.

~Tonia

More salads you may like!

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Pesto Pasta Salad w/ cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella, olives & fresh basil tossed in a Creamy Pesto Dressing. Vegan, gluten-free adaptable.

Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad

  • Author: Tonia Schemmel | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad tastes like summer.  Definitely picnic worthy and perfect for a light dinner on its own, or serve as a side dish with grilled protein.  It is simple to make, vegan and gf adaptable!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 10 oz fusilli pasta, 5 cups cooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup halved green olives
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil

Creamy Pesto Dressing

Garnish with Urfa Biber, red pepper flakes or Aleppo, Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle


Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions adding salt to the water
  2. Rather than rinse with cool water, drain and toss hot pasta with olive oil and lemon juice,  spread on a sheet pan to cool while you prep the veggies and dressing.
  3. Make the dressing: mix together pesto, greek yogurt, mayo, lemon juice until smooth and creamy.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Mix pasta, olives, fresh mozzarella and creamy pesto dressing.  (At this point you can refrigerate up to a day ahead of serving).
  5. Add fresh tomatoes and basil just before serving and garnish of choice.

Notes

Gluten-Free Version: try rice, chickpea or lentil pasta.

Vegan Version:  Make Fresh Basil Pesto with vegan adaption and use vegan sour cream and vegan mayo. Top with Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 336
  • Sugar: 3.1 g
  • Sodium: 447.3 mg
  • Fat: 19.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.6 g
  • Fiber: 2.1 g
  • Protein: 10.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 5.1 mg

Keywords: Pesto pasta, pesto pasta salad, pesto pasta salad recipe, creamy pesto pasta salad

 

Share this with the world

Hi, I'm Tonia!

Subscribe
to get recipes via email

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

Comments

  1. One of my favorite pot luck recipes. It works great with store bought pesto if you’re in a rush (the one from Trader Joe’s is my favorite).

  2. Delicious! Made this for my family and several guests and they all raved. The only problem was, they ate all of it and there were no leftovers! I used whole wheat fusilli and nonfat greek yogurt. Served it along with fresh green beans from the garden. The flavors were perfect.

  3. simply delicious! I made it vegan without the mozzarella and I don’t miss the cheese at all.