Pesto Pasta Salad placates my obsession with pasta recipes. I love it on all kinds of meats, vegetables, bread, and pasta. So pesto pasta is a natural for me! This salad is full of veggies, and the creamy pesto dressing is ah-mazing! It’s pesto perfection! Another great thing about pasta salad recipes is that they are so easy to make, and Pesto Pasta Salad is no exception!
I use prepared pesto because it tastes great, are super economical, and are a great way to add convenience!
What I Love About This Recipe
There are so many great things about Pesto Pasta Salad. It tastes as good as it looks with its vibrant colors, but there are lots more reasons I love this salad!
- It’s super simple to make
- Prepared pesto saves time and hassle
- It feeds a big crowd
- It has endless variations
Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe Notes
This Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad is straightforward to make, which is one of the hallmarks of a good pasta salad! Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Pasta Prep- Don’t overcook your pasta. It does soak up the dressing as it sits, and we’re not looking for super soft pasta in this salad. Use solid pasta prep techniques and cook to al dente. Also, be sure to allow the pasta to cool before assembling!
Julienne- To cut the basil, a technique called julienne is used. This simply means to cut into long, thin strips like matchsticks. It can take a bit of practice and patience, but the presentation is well worth it. The bright green strips of basil make the salad pop with color!
Nuts- I use pine nuts, but I know they can be expensive and sometimes hard to find. Pecans, or walnuts are all good alternatives.
Buttermilk- I use a lot of buttermilk as I cook, so it rarely has a chance to go bad before I finish the container. However, if you don’t have any on hand or don’t want to buy a full container for a small amount, you can make your own or just use whole milk! To make a buttermilk substitute: Mix 1 cup of milk (whole milk is best) and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes and give it a good stir. Buttermilk brings a delicious tang to the dressing. You don’t want to leave it out!
Keep Pesto Pasta Salad in a well-sealed container, like a 1-gallon resealable ziplock bag, in the fridge. It will hold well for a couple of days.
Can You Freeze This?
Pasta salads, including this Pesto Pasta Salad recipe, do not freeze well. The veggies and pasta don’t hold their texture well with freezing. Fresh is best with pasta salads!
Make Ahead Tips
Pesto Pasta Salad holds well for a couple of days in the fridge. It’s perfect to make the day before and only gets better as it mingles! If you need to make it more than a day in advance, you can cook the pasta and make the dressing but store them separately. Several hours to a full day before, assemble the salad. Just stir well before serving!
How Long Can You Keep This?
Pesto Pasta Salad holds well for up to 3 days in the fridge.
Pasta Salad Recipe Variations
Pasta Salad is one of the most versatile dishes out there. Just about anything goes and will turn out fabulously! This pasta salad recipe has several variations that are just as good as the original!
How Can I Make It Pesto Pasta Salad Vegan Version?
Pesto Pasta Salad Vegan Version requires only a few simple adjustments. You’ll need to swap out the dairy based ingredients for your favorite dairy alternatives. You could also opt to just use straight pesto as the dressing instead of making it cream based. If you go that route, you’ll need double the amount of pesto.
Can I Add Chicken To This Recipe?
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad is one of my favorite variations. Chicken pairs perfectly and makes the salad main dish worthy- just like Chicken Pasta Salad. Add in 2 cups of cooked chicken cut into cubes, and you’ve got a delicious lunch or light dinner.
Can I Use Shrimp?
Shrimp and pesto are a match made in heaven! Add in a 1/2 pound of cooked, chopped shrimp to create Pesto Shrimp Pasta Salad. If you’re a fan of seafood salad, you can also try my creamy, decadent Shrimp Pasta Salad.
Can I Add Bacon?
I haven’t met a dish yet that bacon can’t improve! From a BLT Pasta Salad to a creamy Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad, everything’s better with bacon, and Pesto Pasta Salad is no exception! Crumble several strips of cooked bacon into your salad for a bacon kick and another layer of flavor.
Is Tortellini A Good Substitute To Farfalle?
Tortellini and pesto are a winning combo. Those pasta pockets of deliciousness are a fantastic addition to the salad. Your Tortellini Salad with this pesto dressing will be out of this world. If you want a tangy vinaigrette salad, try my Tortellini Pasta Salad. It’s another one of my favorites that goes quickly at our big family get togethers!
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 16 ounces dry farfalle
- 1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
- 1 1/4 cups pesto, stirred
- 1/3 cup buttermilk, well shaken
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 3/4 teaspoon Italian herbs
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 10 (ounce container) grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pinenuts
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned
- 2 8 (ounce container) fresh Mozzarella in water, diced into small cubes
- Pasta: Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cool pasta to room temperature.
- For Dressing: in a large bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients until well combined and smooth.
- Salad: When pasta has cooled, add to the dressing. Stir in the rest of the salad ingredients and toss with dressing until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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More Pasta Salad Recipes
Since they’re always a huge hit at get together’s, I have lotsa of pasta salad recipes, and honestly, I can’t choose my favorite. They’re all so delicious! Here are several of my top picks! Let me know, in the comments below, if you give one a try and how your family and friends like it. ♥
- Pesto Cavatappi
- Taco Pasta Salad
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
- Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing
- Pasta Salad
Pasta Pesto Salad checks all the boxes for a great pasta salad. It is a regular on my table and a go-to for potlucks. Get ready for it to be requested over and over! I look forward to hearing how it goes for you!
This looks like summer in a bowl and I can’t WAIT To try it!
Yes! Thank you! 🙂