Kalyn's Kitchen

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad uses pantry ingredients you probably keep in the house, and this is a delicious meatless salad that’s quick and easy to make. 

PIN Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers!

Pesto Pasta Salad finished salad in serving bowl

There are some recipes where you carefully purchase special ingredients in anticipation of the dish, and then there are those recipes where you have something in the fridge, and you stare into the pantry thinking, “What can I make with this?” You know what I mean about that, right?

It was the Basil Pesto with Lemon that inspired this extra-simple Pesto Pasta Salad. I used canned olives and roasted red pepper from a jar to round out the salad, but there are lots of other possibilities that would taste good here; check below for other ideas.

And actually pasta salad with pesto dressing is just a version of pasta with pesto, so how can this not be good? 

Pesto Pasta Salad process shots collage

How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. I originally used 12 oz. Dreamfields Rotini, but now I’d probably use whole wheat pasta for this salad. Cook the pasta exactly 9 minutes, then drain and cool for 10 minutes.
  2. I used Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (affiliate link), mixed half and half with my Basil Pesto with Lemon. If you’re using a different commercial dressing, be sure it has less than 2-3 grams of sugar per serving.
  3. I wanted to use a fair amount of lower-carb ingredients in proportion to the amount of pasta, s0 I used a whole can of olives, cut in half. 
  4. I also used a 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, diced into small pieces.
  5. After the pasta cools for 10 minutes, stir in enough dressing to coat the slightly-warm pasta. (You may not need all the dressing, but save the rest in case you want to add it later.)
  6. Combine the pasta with dressing, diced red bell pepper, and olives.
  7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and chill in the fridge 1-3 hours.
  8. To serve, mix in 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or more!) and a little more dressing if the salad seems dry.
  9. Serve slightly chilled or at or room temperature.

Other ingredients you could use in this salad:

  • diced marinated artichoke hearts
  • marinated mushrooms, cut in half
  • cooked turkey Italian sausage, cut into small pieces
  • turkey pepperoni, chopped
  • grilled vegetables of any type such as zucchini, mushrooms, onions, or summer squash
  • cubed fresh mozzarella chees

More Pasta Salad Recipes:

Broccoli, Basil, and Pasta Salad from The Perfect Pantry
Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Shrimp and Macaroni Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Easy Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers found on KalynsKitchen.com

Pesto Pasta Salad

Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 34 minutes

This easy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe has olives and roasted red peppers and uses pantry ingredients you probably keep in the house.


  • 12 oz. whole wheat Rotini pasta (see notes)
  • one 6 oz. can black olives
  • one 12 oz. jar roasted red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (see notes
  • 1/3 cup pesto (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Fill a medium-sized pot half full of water, add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil. Add pasta, and cook 9 minutes (or check package for cooking time.)
  2. Drain pasta well, and let cool for 10 minutes while you prep other ingredients.
  3. Pour olives into a colander, drain well, then cut olives in half.
  4. Pour red bell peppers into colander, drain well, and dice into small pieces.
  5. Combine vinaigrette dressing and pesto, whisking together.
  6. When pasta is cool, stir in enough dressing to coat the pasta. (You may not need all the dressing, but save it to add if needed after the salad has chilled.)
  7. Add olives and roasted red pepper, and stir gently to combine. Cover salad with plastic wrap or a lid, and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
  8. To serve, remove salad from refrigerator and stir in 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more dressing if needed to moisten salad.
  9. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.


If you're trying to limit carbs, use any lower-carb or higher-fiber pasta of your choice for this salad. I used Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (affiliate link) but any low-sugar vinaigrette will work. I used my Basil Pesto with Lemon for this salad, but you can use purchased basil pesto as wellRecipe created by Kalyn.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This easy Pesto Pasta Salad can never be low carb unless you used zucchini noodles to replace the pasta and actually I think that could be pretty good. Be sure to follow the suggestions in the recipe for types of pasta, types of dressing, and use of low-glycemic ingredients if you’re making this salad for the original South Beach Diet, and with those cautions, the salad would be approved for phase 2 or 3 of the diet. This is too high in carbs for a low-carb diet.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Pasta Recipes or Salad Recipes to find more salads like this one.Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Pinterest image of Pesto Pasta Salad

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    36 Comments on “Pesto Pasta Salad”

  1. oneshotbeyond, thank you!

  2. I just love how colorful and vibrant your salad looks.

  3. S., you're welcome!

  4. Oh wow. My husband and I were discussing the need to research a pesto pasta salad today and before I even searched it, I found it on foodgawker staring me in the face. Thank you!

  5. Healthy and Homemade, just sub something else for the olives and you're set!

  6. The colors are gorgeous!! Cannot wait to try this out, I have all the ingredients except olive (but hubby is picky and seems to hate them, so it's fine)


  7. Kim, hope you like it! Spicy pesto would be interesting in this.

  8. What a perfect summer salad! I actually just purchased a wonderful spicy pesto at our local Farmer's Market today, this would be a perfect way to use it!!!

  9. Smilinggreenmom, not sure what you mean? (The pesto doesn't have any eggs?) If you meant to say nut allergies, you could definitely leave out the pine nuts and it would still be good. I might use a bit more cheese.

  10. I love anything with olives! I am so glad you included a link back to the pesto. Our son has egg allergies and I wonder if it would taste okay to eliminate it? I would love to try this and it looks awesome – will use my favorite whole grain pasta called Kamut! Thanks 🙂

  11. Sues, thanks. (Seems like there are a lot of olive-lovers out there!)

  12. I love this! It looks so simple, but delicious. I'm currently obsessed with pesto and do agree that olives make everything better 🙂 Perfect weeknight dinner!


  13. Katie, olives make everything better!

  14. My kind of pasta salad – simple, colorful and with olives ;-))

  15. Dara, I did have to try to restrain myself! Gave some of it away so I couldn't eat too much!

  16. I am certain that I would not be able to stop eating this. This is the type of pasta salad that I would keep going back to the fridge for, taking bite after bite.