A simple rotini pasta salad recipe made with fresh basil pesto as the dressing. Cucumber, kalamata olives, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella all come together for a fresh and flavorful side dish.
- 1 pound regular or tricolor rotini
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls, cherry-sized balls (halved), or chopped large ball
- 1 cup basil pesto, or more to taste (about 7–8 ounces)
- 1 medium cucumber, quartered and chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup chopped red onion (half a medium red onion)
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (look for 6-ounce jar)
- Optional shredded parmesan cheese
- Extra optional olive oil if pesto is too thick
Homemade basil pesto
- 3 loosely packed cups of basil leaves, about 2.5 ounces
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente. Strain and rinse with cool water. Place in a large bowl.
- Add all remaining ingredients and toss until fully coated in pesto sauce. Start with about 1 cup and add more to taste. You can add additional olive oil to extend or thin the pesto sauce if it’s too thick.
Homemade basil pesto
- Combine all pesto ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend/pulse until mixed and smooth.
- With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until combined. Pesto should not be too soupy or fine. Set aside. Can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge in a tightly sealed container. Cover with plastic wrap seated directly on top of the surface to prevent browning/air exposure.
The recipe above is a rough estimate of ingredients. Add more or less of anything you like to taste. You can’t really go wrong. Can be made a day in advance.
You have some options when it comes to fresh mozzarella. The target amount is 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella per batch. You can use mozzarella pearls (the best option as they’re small), cherry-sized mozzarella balls (I usually cut them in half), or a chopped 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella.
- Serving Size: 1/10th
- Calories: 334
- Sugar: 3.1g
- Sodium: 321mg
- Fat: 15.2g
- Saturated Fat: 4.1g
- Carbohydrates: 35.7g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 14.3g
- Cholesterol: 32mg
Keywords: pesto pasta salad, italian pasta salad, rotini pasta salad