Pesto Pasta Salad. Fresh, simple and satisfying. This pasta salad, takes advantage of summer’s fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. It can be served warm or chilled making it a great option for picnics or potlucks!
I am a HUGE fan of pestos, mayonnaise not so much. So pesto is a great option for me for pasta salads. I love pesto so much so, I have a whole chapter devoted to them in my Modern Pasta Sauces Cookbook. Yes, you can make pestos with a variety of different ingredients. True story. This red pesto pasta salad is quick, easy and can be cooked in advance as it’s great served warm or chilled.
WHAT IS PESTO?
The word pesto simply means ‘to pound’ or ‘to crush’ in Italian. Traditional green pesto, or pesto alla genovese, is a mixture of fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, salt/pepper and olive oil.
WHY IS IT CALLED RED PESTO?
Red pesto, or pesto rosso in Italian, typically includes sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. It’s perfect to mix into pastas or even as a base for pizza.
WHAT DOES AL DENTE MEAN?
Al dente comes from an Italian phrase which translates “to the tooth.” When directions say to cook until al dente, the pasta should be tender but still firm to the bite. No one wants mushy pasta.
WHAT INGREDIENTS DO I NEED TO MAKE PESTO PASTA SALAD
You’ll need the following KEY ingredients to make this pesto pasta salad at home
- fresh cherry tomatoes
- olive oil
- shell pasta (TIP – no shells? No problem, you can substitute any short pasta you prefer)
- kosher salt / black pepper
- RED PESTO
- fresh ciliegine mozzarella balls
- fresh basil
MORE DELICIOUS PASTA RECIPES TO TRY
If you’re feeling inspired by my pesto pasta recipe, you’ll love these other tasty pasta recipes:
- Bucatini with Creamy Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
- Spaghetti with Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce
- Spaghetti with Sweet Potato and Tomato Sauce
- Sausage Ragu with Pappardelle
Pesto Pasta Salad
Simple pasta salad. Can be served warm or chilled.
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic - crushed
- kosher salt / black pepper
- 1 pound large shell pasta
- 1/4 cup red pesto
- 8-12 fresh Ciliegine mozzarella balls
- 4-6 fresh basil leaves
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place tomatoes, into a small round cake pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Cook approximately 6-8minutes OR just until tomatoes have softened.
- WHILE tomatoes are cooking, place generously salted pot of water onto boil. When boiling, add pasta and cook just shy of al-dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water prior to draining. Drain pasta.
- To pot add pesto, reserved pasta water. Mix to combine. Add pasta, mozzarella. Toss to combine.
- Check for seasoning. Adjust salt/pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
We would love to see them!
And make sure you follow bell’alimento on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, too!