This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Step three: Mix Creamy Pesto Dressing with cooled pasta, olives, and mozzarella pearls. Make-ahead up to this point and store in the fridge.
Step four: Add tomatoes and torn basil just before serving.
Garnish with Urfa Biber, red pepper flakes or Aleppo.
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.
More salads you may like!
- Lemon Basil Orzo Salad
- Summer Pasta Salad w/ Grilled Zucchini, Corn and Cilantro Pesto
- Farmers Market Pasta Salad
- Grilled Tuscan Bread Salad
- Antipasto Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 cups 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
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!
- 10 oz fusilli pasta, 5 cups cooked
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4–1/2 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
- 3/4 cup basil pesto (try our recipe with vegan adaptations)
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt (sub vegan yogurt or vegan sour cream)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (sub vegan mayo)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper
Garnish with Urfa Biber, red pepper flakes or Aleppo, Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle
- Cook pasta according to package directions adding salt to the water
- 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.
- Make the dressing: mix together pesto, greek yogurt, mayo, lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix pasta, olives, fresh mozzarella and creamy pesto dressing. (At this point you can refrigerate up to a day ahead of serving).
- Add fresh tomatoes and basil just before serving and garnish of choice.
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
- 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
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).
Good to know! Thanks Susie.
Delicious & loved by the whole family – thank you for another great recipe!
Glad you enjoyed!
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.
Glad you enjoyed this Betsy!
simply delicious! I made it vegan without the mozzarella and I don’t miss the cheese at all.
awesome! so good to hear Karen!
Looks delicious. Is that 1/2 cup of fresh mozzarella pearls?
Yes! Fixed it. 😉
May we assume that it is ½ Cup Mozzarella Pearls listed in the recipe ingredients?
Yes, 1/2 cup!
I’m making this tonight. I am not sure of the mozzarella measurement. Could you clarify please. thanks!
Opps! Yes, 1/2 cup!