Cold Pesto Pasta Salad {Easy Summer Side}

Loaded with fresh flavor, this pasta salad has plenty of summer veggies and is the perfect use for your homemade pesto.

In just over an hour (including chill time), you’ll have a delightful dish ready to go.

finished pasta salad with pesto.

Cold Pesto Pasta Salad

Bright, refreshing, and flavorful. This is a summertime pasta salad you'll turn to again and again.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Serving Size 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar (white wine vinegar is fine too!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces ditalini pasta any shape okay
  • 1 cup diced roma tomatoes
  • ½ cup black olives pitted and sliced
  • cup red onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup pre-made basil pesto

Instructions 

  • Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
  • Prepare the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the premade basil pesto, extra-virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as desired.
    small bowl with pesto dressing.
  • Add the Dressing and Veggies: Pour the prepared pesto dressing over the orzo mixture. Toss well until all the ingredients are coated with the dressing. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, and finely chopped red onion. Toss the ingredients gently to mix them together evenly.
    mixing bowl before and after adding veggies to pasta salad.
  • Chill and Serve: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the pesto pasta salad for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Before serving, give it a gentle toss to ensure the dressing is distributed evenly. Serve cold as a delicious and refreshing pasta salad.
    finished dish.

Notes

You can customize this pesto pasta salad by adding other vegetables like roasted bell peppers, artichoke hearts, or fresh baby spinach. Feel free to get creative!

Serving Suggestions

Fridge: Keep it in an airtight container. It’ll stay fresh for 3-4 days.

This recipe does not freeze well.

pesto pasta salad in mixing bowl

Tips

  • Use fresh homemade basil pesto if possible – it makes a world of difference.
  • For an extra flavor kick, try marinating the onions in the balsamic vinegar for about 10 minutes before adding.

You’ll need the following for this summer side dish:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ditalini pasta (or your preferred pasta shape)
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Black olives
  • Red onion
  • Pre-made basil pesto (here’s my favorite pesto recipe… no pine nuts!)
ingredients on wooden board.

More cold summer sides:

scoop of finished pasta salad on wooden spoon.
Cold Pesto Pasta Salad {Easy Summer Side}

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