Pesto Pasta Salad

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Let’s chill out with a refreshing Pesto Pasta Salad perfect for beating the summer heat! This recipe is inspired by the one I used to enjoy from Mendocino Farms. Summer vibes are all about pasta salad, and this one, filled with mozzarella pearls, spinach, and tomatoes, is the ultimate cool-down treat on a hot day! Its colors are as vibrant as its flavors, and guess what? It tastes even better as it sits, so prep it the day before, and your lunch is sorted for the next day!

Pesto Pasta Salad

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 6


**For the Pesto:**

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3 cups basil
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

**For Assembly:**

  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta uncooked
  • 8 ounces mozzarella pearls drained
  • 1 cup baby spinach chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan


**Making the Pesto:**

  • Heat a pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant and pine nuts are toasted. Remove from heat.
  • In a blender, combine sauteed pine nuts and garlic with basil, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, parmesan, salt, and black pepper. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

**Cooking the Pasta:**

  • Boil pasta according to package directions in salted water.
  • Drain cooked pasta and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.


  • In the same bowl with the pasta, add mozzarella pearls, spinach, tomatoes, parmesan, and all of the pesto.
  • Toss everything together until well combined.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil and chill in the fridge for an hour or two before serving!


For added protein, grilled chopped chicken makes a delicious addition!

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