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Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

  • Author: Shawn Williams
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: Italian


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 78 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Combine all pesto ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend/pulse until mixed and smooth.
  2. 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


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