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Quick & Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

There are so many reasons I love warmer weather, but for sure I love the change of food. The things that are in season and the foods we start to crave as the temperatures rise changes so much, doesn’t it? There are two things that feel like the true start of the warmer months to me: a cheeseburger and a cold pasta salad. Today, we’re talking about a quick and easy pesto pasta salad with just a few ingredients and almost no effort.

If you entertain a lot during the summer months, or even go to friends’ and family a lot in the summer months, a solid pasta salad is perfect to have in your back pocket. With the right ingredients a pasta salad can be so refreshing and the perfect side dish for grilling.

The ingredients in this guy are so simple. All you need is 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, 16 oz of small mozzarella balls (TJ’s has the best price around us), a pound of pasta, a cup or two of arugula and your favorite pesto.

A pasta salad also holds up really well to making ahead! For this one, you’ll dress it with about 1/4 c – 1/2 c pesto. But if you’re going to make ahead, I’d say dress it with 1/4 c of pesto ahead of time and then once you are ready to serve it, dress it with another 1/4 c.

Easy, right?!

Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

Around here, pesto = summer. Toss cooled off noodles with your favorite pesto and toss in mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and arugula for a great side dish or even a weeknight main dish for the warmer spring and summer months.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: pasta, pasta salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1 handfull salt, for boiling pasta
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 16 oz small mozzarella balls, sliced in half
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c your favorite store bought pesto
  • 1-2 c arugula
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • chiffonade basil, for garnish, optional

Instructions

  • Bring water to a boil with a palmfull of salt. You want the water to taste like sea water for the best flavor. 
  • Boil the pasta according to the package instructions.
  • Meanwhile, slice the cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 
  • When the pasta is done, drain and run under cool water to take the heat out. When the pasta is still a little warm, add to the tomatoes and mozzarella. The heat will help the pesto to melt into the pasta. 
  • Add the pesto and stir until well combined. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. 
  • Add arugula and chiffonade basil, if using, just before serving. 
  • To make ahead: Prepare through the arugula and basil, reserving those ingredients for serving. Before serving, taste for pesto and add more pesto if necessary. Then taste for salt and pepper; add arugula and basil. 
    Keep the pasta salad in an airtight container. 

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