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Pesto Pasta Salad

This pesto pasta salad is packed full of fresh homemade pesto, peas, and pine nuts. It is a simple-to-make recipe that is perfect for summertime!

Pesto Pasta Salad in a large bowl with a serving spoon.

Do you love flavor-packed pasta salad?

Well, this pesto pasta salad is just what you need!

Not only does it combine perfectly cooked pasta with pesto but it also throws in peas and pine nuts for added flavor and texture.

This pasta salad is perfect for summertime parties and BBQs or even as a simple side dish.

In fact, this is the perfect salad to make on a Monday and eat all week long!

If you’re looking for added protein this salad also tastes great with grilled chicken or shrimp.

Craving pasta salad but living a gluten-free life? Try this gluten-free Italian pasta salad!

Pesto Pasta Salad ingredients on a table.

Ingredients to make pesto pasta salad

  • Homemade pesto – This homemade pesto is packed with basil, garlic, lemon, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. It adds tons of flavor to the pasta salad! You can substitute store-bought if you don’t want to make your pesto from scratch.
  • Pasta – I used rotini-shaped pasta but ideally you can use whatever you think works best for pasta salad. Other great-shaped options are bowtie, elbow, or gemelli.
  • Frozen peas – Not only do they add color but they add great flavor! Using frozen peas makes this dish even easier!
  • Toasted pine nuts – These bring a crunchy texture to the salad as well as complement the pesto.
Pesto Pasta Salad in a serving bowl.

Adding in protein or vegetables

I love this recipe written as is, BUT you can easily add in more vegetables or protein if desired.

This pesto pasta salad goes great with grilled chicken or grilled shrimp. Not only could you mix it in, but you could also serve it alongside.

You can also add ingredients like finely chopped red bell peppers and fresh mozzarella balls or stir in fresh basil leaves.

Using store-bought pesto

If you want to make this pasta salad even easier, you can 100% use store-bought pesto.

Although I LOVE making my pesto from scratch, it’s hard when you’re short on time.

Need another use for pesto? Try this Casarecce Pasta!

Pesto Pasta Salad in a large white serving bowl.

Storage and leftovers of pesto pasta salad

This pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

If you mix in grilled chicken or shrimp you may have to adjust how long it can be stored based on ingredients.

Pesto Pasta Salad getting scooped out of a serving bowl.

More summer side dish salads

Pesto Pasta Salad

Author: Brandy O’Neill – Nutmeg Nanny
This pesto pasta salad is packed full of fresh homemade pesto, peas, and pine nuts. It is a simple-to-make recipe that is perfect for summertime!
4.60 from 5 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings


For the pesto

  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated or shredded
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the pasta salad

  • 1 box 16 ounces rotini pasta
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • Pesto from above
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts


For the pesto 

  • Combine the pine nuts, garlic, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Pulse until the garlic and nuts are broken up into small pieces. 
  • Add the basil and parmesan and pulse until the basil is broken up into small pieces as well. 
  • With the food processor on low, slowly add the olive oil.
  • Continue to pulse until the pesto is smooth and lump-free. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Set aside until ready to use. 

For the pasta salad 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than al dente. Check the time on the box as different brands will have different cook times. 
  • Add the peas and cook for an additional minute, or just until al dente. 
  • Remove 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta and peas. 
  • Add the pesto and 1/4 cup of pasta water to a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the pasta and peas to the bowl and toss to combine. If the pasta is too dry, add an additional 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water.
  • Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. 
  • Garnish with toasted pine nuts and enjoy. 
  • This pasta can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature, or chilled. 
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 243mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g
Course Pasta
Cuisine American
Keyword easy pasta salad, homemade pesto, pasta salad, pea pesto pasta salad, pesto pasta salad, pesto pea pasta
Did you try this recipe?Leave a comment and 5 star review!
Pesto Pasta Salad pin for Pinterest.

About Brandy!

I am a food lover and recipe developer bringing you delicious recipes that taste great and are easy to make! My food is inspired by travels around the world and my love of flavorful food. A list of things that make me happy: cats, Coke Zero, houseplants, and travel. Read more...

Recipe Rating


Saturday 28th of May 2022

Was so quick and easy to make, and we all loved it!


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