I love pasta salad, but I am not a fan of pasta salad made with mayonnaise. It’s just too heavy, and a food with a lot of mayonnaise is the last thing I want to be eating on a hot summer day. This Pesto Pasta Salad replaces the mayonnaise with pesto and it’s a delicious substitution. Pesto Pasta Salad is made with roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic, red bell peppers, and goat cheese tossed in pesto with pasta. The fresh taste of basil is fitting for summer and the roasted tomatoes and bell peppers are the perfect flavor pairing.
If you want to add an extra burst of cheesiness to this salad you can add in some tortellini. I love the flavor combination of goat cheese and pesto, but you could use mozzarella instead. If you want to turn this side dish into a complete meal you can add some chicken.
The roasted tomatoes are so much more flavorful than raw tomatoes. Roasting the tomatoes only takes 15 minutes and the process gives the tomatoes a deeper richer flavor. If you are really short on time, you could skip roasting the tomatoes and just add sliced raw tomatoes to the pasta salad, but I think that the roasted tomatoes pair more successfully with the pesto.
The total preparation time is only about 20 minutes, and it doesn’t involve any complicated cooking techniques. Absolutely anyone can prepare this salad with ease. It is just the thing to make to bring to a summer barbecue when you are short on time. It would be a nice addition to a Fourth of July party – if you are heading to one tomorrow. Pesto Pasta Salad would also be a wonderful make-ahead summer lunch to bring to the office.
If you would like some more recipes for summer salads you can check out this list of 10 Summer Salad Recipes.
Yields 4-6 servings
20 minPrep Time
20 minTotal Time
- 1/2 pound of Pasta
- about 1 cup of Pesto
- 2 cups of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 1 cup chopped Red Bell Pepper
- 4 ounces of Crumbled Goat Cheese
- Start by roasting the tomatoes. Slice them in half, and lay them out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to the directions on the packaging. Drain the pasta and let cool.
- Finely chop the garlic or run it through a garlic press. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for one minute, then add the red bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the pasta (it should be a room temperature), tomatoes, bell pepper, and pesto together. Add the goat cheese and lightly toss to combine. Chill and serve.
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