Tomato and Mozzarella Pesto Pasta Salad — Tender pasta, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella are coated in Parmesan cheese and DELICIOUS pesto sauce!! EASY, ready in 15 minutes, and great for easy meals with planned leftovers or for parties because it feeds a crowd!!
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Cold Pesto Pasta Salad
This pesto and mozzarella pasta salad is ready in 15 minutes and it’s great comfort food. Pasta equals comfort.
But it also has a summery feel from the fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. The best of both worlds.
This pasta salad makes a ton and can feed a crowd.
I like to think of the four P’s: potlucks, picnics, parties, and planned leftovers.
The leftovers keep very well and if you’re looking for easy lunches or no-brainer dinners for the week, this is perfect.
However, if you don’t need as much, you can always halve the recipe. You can serve it warm and fresh right away or chill it and serve it later.
What’s in Pesto Pasta Salad?
To make this cold pesto pasta salad recipe, you’ll need:
- Bowtie pasta
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh mozzarella cheese balls
- Homemade pesto (or your favorite store bought pesto)
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Black pepper
- Fresh basil
How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad
It doesn’t get any easier than this pasta salad with pesto!
- Simply boil and cook the pasta until al dente and drain it.
- Then add in the cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.
- Toss with pesto sauce, add Parmesan cheese, and serve. So fast and easy!
Can I Use Store-Bought Pesto Instead?
There’s nothing better than homemade pesto because you just cannot beat the aroma and flavor of fresh basil, and it only takes 5 minutes to make.
And in a recipe like this where pesto plays a key role, that’s another reason to make your own.
But if you don’t want to, you can use store-bought prepared pesto. No shame. I recently tried Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale Cashew Pesto and was very impressed. They’ve also got a Pesto alla Genovese that’s great. However, use your favorite store bought pesto since it is a key ingredient.
Store Bought Pesto is Salty
Note that prepared pesto tends to be pretty salty, like almost all prepared condiments, salsas, mustards, etc. which are loaded with sodium.
You likely won’t need to add any extra salt to this dish whatsoever, especially since parmesan cheese is salty, too.
How Long Does Pesto Pasta Salad Last?
This bow tie pasta salad will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
Tips for Making Pesto Pasta Salad
I used bowtie pasta but rotini, ziti, or your favorite small pasta shapes may be substituted.
I used multi-colored cherry tomatoes and truthfully they don’t taste very different from each other, but they look really pretty in a dish like this. If all you can find are red cherry or grape tomatoes, they will be fine. You can also use diced heirloom tomatoes or even Roma tomatoes.
Feel free to get creative and add in vegetables like zucchini, carrots, or spinach.
With both the pesto and the parmesan, add to taste. I provided the measurements I used in the recipe, but you can always go lighter-handed at first, and add either more pesto, more parmesan, or both, to taste.
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Tomato and Mozzarella Pesto Pasta Salad
- 12 ounces bowtie pasta, cooked according to package directions
- 1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (use multi-colored tomatoes if you can find them)
- 8 ounce fresh mozzarella cheese balls, ciliegine, drained
- 8 ounces prepared or homemade pesto, or to taste
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- fresh basil leaves, optional for garnishing
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to a large bowl. Note – If you don’t want the mozzarella in step two to melt at all and want it to remain intact in balls, wait about 10 minutes for the pasta to cool a bit before proceeding.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto, and stir to combine and coat evenly.
- Add the Parmesan, pepper, and stir to combine and coat evenly. Taste and if desired, add salt but I did not find it necessary.
- Optionally garnish with basil and serve immediately if desired or chill before serving.
- Pasta salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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