Basil Pesto Pasta Salad (One Bowl)
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Quick and easy pesto pasta salad recipe, homemade with simple ingredients in one pot or bowl in 20 minutes. Packed with basil pesto sauce, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes!
The flavors of this salad are fresh, bright, filling. The tomatoes burst with juice and acidity while the salty mozzarella cheese balances the tomatoes and pesto sauce perfectly. Due to this combination, this salad is also known as a caprese pesto pasta salad.
How to make pesto pasta salad?
- Toss ingredients together– In a large salad bowl, mix together pasta, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella balls, pesto, olives, basil and parsley. Make sure pasta is fully coated.
- Cover and chill– Allow the flavors to develop in the fridge for 30 minutes and then, dig in.
What to serve with cold pesto pasta salad recipe?
You can pair this salad as a side dish with chicken or steak as a main course.
It can also be served alongside your favorite sandwich such as this Loose Meat Sandwich (One Pot). Even a simple grilled cheese sandwich would be delicious.
My family likes to enjoy leftovers as a main dish for lunch the next day. To make it more filling, baked or Grilled Chicken Breast can be added too.
Chicken pesto pasta salad– Add cooked cubed or shredded chicken. Use rotisserie chicken to keep it simple.
Add tortellini– Instead of pasta, add tortellini for amore filling salad.
Creamy pesto pasta salad– Mix in mayo, softened cream cheese, cour cream or even alfredo sauce.
Add sun dried tomatoes– This adds texture and a wonderful flavor.
Add nuts– Such as walnuts, pecans, or cashews for crunch.
Try different cheeses- Feta, Gorgonzola, or Parmesan would all taste delicious.
Try a different pesto sauce– Try one containing different herbs such as mint or cilantro OR one with different nuts such as walnuts or pecans OR or one with roasted red peppers added to it.
Add more vegetables– Such as peas, bell peppers, cucumbers, artichokes, or spinach.
Add more herbs and spices– Try adding mint leaves or cilantro for variety. You can also add a little Greek Seasoning or Italian seasoning.
Make is spicy– Add red chili flakes to bring some spice to the salad.
Tips and Techniques
What is the best pasta for this salad? I prefer rotini, which that is what I used in this recipe. The shape of the pasta holds the pesto sauce nicely so that each bite packs tons of flavor. However, you can use whatever pasta you prefer.
Pasta should be boiled in salted water– This adds flavor to the pasta or else it will be too bland.
Pasta should not be too hot– Room temperature is ideal, or else it becomes very paste- like and mushy when mixing.
How long is it good for? It can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
What if I can’t find Mozzarella balls? You can cut up mozzarella sticks into bite-size pieces, and it will be just as tasty.
What tomatoes to use? I prefer cherry tomatoes because when they are cut in half, they have the perfect texture, juiciness, and are bite-sized. You can diced tomatoes if that’s what you have on hand. However, make sure to use the freshest and ripest tomatoes you can find for the best flavor.
Can this salad be frozen? No, it can’t be frozen because freezing will change the texture of the ingredients too much as it thaws.
Homemade pesto vs. Store-bought pesto– Either can be used. Homemade obviously tastes the freshest! If you are using store-bought, get the best quality one you can find for maximum flavor.
Make ahead instructions– This salad can be be made a day in advance. Just store it covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
More Easy Salad Recipes
- Cherry Tomato Salad (One Bowl)
- Creamy Pea Salad (One Bowl)
- Cucumber Tomato Salad (One Bowl)
- Best Macaroni Salad (One Bowl)
- Creamy Cucumber Salad (One Bowl)
- Tomato Avocado Salad (One Bowl)
One Bowl Pesto Pasta Salad
Quick and easy pesto pasta salad recipe, homemade with simple ingredients in one pot or bowl in 20 minutes. Packed with basil pesto sauce, mozzarella, tomatoes!
- 12 oz Rotini pasta Boiled in salted water and drained, Cooled down to room temperature
- 1.5 cups Cherry tomatoes Cut in half
- 1/3 cup Onions Finely chopped
- 1 cup Mozzarella balls Use small pearl sized balls
- 1 cup Basil pesto
- 1/2 cup Black olives Sliced
- 1/4 cup Fresh herbs Finely chopped basil and parsley
In a large salad bowl, add pasta, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella balls, pesto, olives, basil and parsley.
Toss everything together until pasta is fully coated.
Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to deepen. Enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Happy cooking everyone!