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.
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?
How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad:
(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I also used a 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, diced into small pieces.
- 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.)
- Combine the pasta with dressing, diced red bell pepper, and olives.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and chill in the fridge 1-3 hours.
- To serve, mix in 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or more!) and a little more dressing if the salad seems dry.
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
- Drain pasta well, and let cool for 10 minutes while you prep other ingredients.
- Pour olives into a colander, drain well, then cut olives in half.
- Pour red bell peppers into colander, drain well, and dice into small pieces.
- Combine vinaigrette dressing and pesto, whisking together.
- 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.)
- 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.
- To serve, remove salad from refrigerator and stir in 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more dressing if needed to moisten salad.
- 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.
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.