Summer’s here, school is out and the basil is growing tall in the garden. That means pesto pasta salad! And this is one of the best pasta salad recipes ever!
It’s loaded with fresh ingredients like ripe tomatoes, sweet corn and fresh basil. This easy recipe is always a crowd pleaser.
What’s in this Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
This delicious pasta salad starts with the fresh basil pesto.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that my Bubby’s pesto sauce is the sauce of my youth, the sauce my college roommates asked me to make most often and one of first things my kids ever ate. Here’s what you’ll need:
The Homemade Basil Pesto
- fresh basil
- Parmesan cheese
- good quality extra virgin olive oil
- pine nuts (optional, but delicious)
- salt and pepper
It takes 2 cups of fresh basil to make enough pesto sauce for one pound of pasta. So if you’re growing basil, you may be able to double or even triple the recipe from time to time.
There are so many ways to enjoy fresh pesto sauce. Use it as a marinade or brush it onto grilled fish, veggies and meats after they’re cooked. Add a spoonful to any other pasta sauce you’re making and watch it go from good to great.
The Pasta Salad Ingredients
Here’s the rest of what you’ll need for this delicious recipe:
- Pasta. Any kind of short pasta will work. We love bowtie pasta, i.e. farfalle.
- Corn. Shave it right off the cob, or for more convenience, open a can.
- Ripe tomatoes. Any kind of small tomato will work, either grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Fresh mozzarella balls. If you can find the miniature ones, they’re so fun in this recipe.
How to Make This Pesto Pasta Salad
First, blend all of the pesto sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor.
Boil the pasta and rinse it with cold water. Shave the corn off the cobs, halve the tomatoes and toss it all together. It really couldn’t be easier!
How to serve Pesto Pasta Salad
Serve this easy cold pasta salad with grilled chicken, steak or pork. It’s also delicious when served as a side dish for shrimp or scallops.
Pesto Pasta Salad can also be a delicious main dish when served with a green salad and crusty bread.
Can you make this Pesto Pasta Salad ahead of time?
This easy summer side dish can be fully prepared ahead of time. In fact, giving the flavors a chance to marry will taste even better!
Seal it in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Variations on this Pesto Pasta Salad
The flavor of pesto sauce is versatile enough to complement lots of mix-ins. Try any of these additions/substitutions:
- diced red onion
- chopped artichoke hearts
- pitted kalamata olives
Does pesto go bad?
Because pesto sauce has perishable ingredients like cheese and basil, it will go bad after about one week in the refrigerator.
If you want to extend the refrigerator life of your pesto sauce, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the pesto before sealing it in an airtight container.
Alternately, freeze your pesto sauce. It will keep in the freezer for several months if properly stored in a freezer-safe container.
When you make this easy cold pesto pasta salad recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a star rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more pesto recipes, try these:
- Sun-Dried Tomato & Pesto Torte
- Sausage & Pesto Calzone
- Polenta Rounds with Pesto Chicken & Roasted Red Peppers
For more summer pasta recipes, try these:
The Best Cold Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 lb. farfalle pasta
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 Tbsp. pine nuts
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ears of corn
- 2 cups mozzarella pearls
- 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain. Rinse with cold water until the pasta reaches room temperature. Set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, puree the basil, Parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, salt, pepper and olive oil until smooth.
- Grill or boil the corn. If boiling, set the corn into a large pot of cold water. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Using a sharp knife, shave the kernels off the cobs and discard.
- Toss the pasta with the pesto sauce in a large bowl. Fold in the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to serve.