Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad is perfect as a side or a main dish all summer long! Easy to customize, this mayo free creamy pasta salad is the perfect weeknight dish. You’ll definitely need to stock up on basil!
I love basil. Every summer, I try and grow some and inevitably kill it. On account that basil seems to be the most simple plant to grow and maintain, it really says something about the strength of my black thumb.
Last year I was doing pretty well, but then spiders decided that they wanted to live in my basil, so I was done. Nope. I don’t do spiders. I willingly abandoned my basil and bought it from the store all summer.
Thankfully, it doesn’t matter where you get your basil for this recipe. This creamy pesto pasta salad is a family favorite. We honestly make it at least once a week.
How to customize creamy pesto pasta salad:
You can also switch up this recipe to your family’s taste – sometimes we mix in grilled chicken or Italian sausage. Others I add in artichoke or olives. Here are some ideas!
- Add a protein. Try grilled chicken, sausage – we’ve even used mini meatballs!
- Add more veggies. Chopped fresh summer veggies, grilled veggies like zucchini or mushrooms.
- Fun additions like olives, artichokes, or sundried tomato are all great additions.
- Get a bonus veggie kick with my vegetable pesto sauce.
Can I make Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad ahead of time?
Yup! The ricotta keeps the basil from browning much, so it stays green pretty well. You can easily assemble the night before.
Another option is to make the sauce and cook the pasta the night before, then just assemble in the morning.
How long does this dish keep?
I recommend 3-4 days max in the fridge. After that, the pasta can get a little bit funky.
Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
Creamy pesto sauce is mixed with whole grain pasta, mini mozzarella, roasted peppers and tomato for the perfect summer dish. Though, we actually eat it all year round!
If you enjoy this recipe, please remember to vote 5 stars! It helps others find it, and makes my day!
Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 lb pasta of choice
- 2 cups loosely packed basil
- 1 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1-3 crushed garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Pepper to taste
- Optional: cherry tomatoes sundried tomatoes, roasted pepper, fresh mozzarella
Cook pasta as per the directions, then drain, rinse, and toss with a little bit of olive oil to avoid sticking. Allow to cool.
Add all ingredients other than the optional add-ons to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
If needed, add salt and more pepper. Sauce should be thick, but if it’s too thick add 1 TBS more oil and process.
Mix pesto with toppings and pasta and serve.
This creamy pesto sauce is also amazing on warm pasta, as a spread on sandwiches, and with shredded or chopped chicken as a chicken salad.
So tell me – can you keep a plant alive? What’s your favorite herb? Let me know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these!
- Cheesy BBQ Chicken Dip on the Grill
Yummy! This looks great. I love ricotta so much. I need to work with fresh herbs more often- they upgrade a meal majorly.
I love fresh herbs, but I have to admit I really only use basil and cilantro most of the time! I need to work on it as well!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
mmmm i love pesto! I will have to make a dairy free version–i will share with you what i use for any dairy free people out there.
I love basil!! I should totally grow some…although i seem to kill plants very easily too…. I also love Dill Weed and cilantro to the core!
Yes, please do!! This was one of my most missed meals when I couldn’t have dairy! And cilantro ??
Julie @ Running in a Skirt says
I love pesto too! I grow basil and never seem to grow enough. Next year I’m planting a big whisky barrel 🙂
We plant SO MUCH and you’re right- never enough!
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday says
I love pesto, too! This sounds so tasty. I should try to grow my own basil! But if there are spiders, that’s a deal-breaker for me, too 😛
Yeah I saw it and I was just like… hope you guys like it in there, enjoy. No thank you.
Sarah @ BucketListTummy says
This looks delicious! I love that it’s a basil pesto and not with pine nuts. Pasta salad is so addicting, once I start I can’t stop eating it!
It’s SO good! We may or may not eat the entire pound of pasta in a day with just 2 adults and a toddler ?
alexandra @ my urban family says
Pesto is so good! I was tempted to say “besto” but that is my lack of sleep talking…
BAHAHHA this is why I like you. I’m definitely calling this the besto pesto for now on!
Kristy from Southern In Law says
Don’t worry, we can grow corn and all these seemingly complicated things and yet whilst the rest of my herb garden thrives, my basil just wilts away and loses the will to live any longer!
Which sucks because I am a hugeeeeeee fan of basil too!
Once I see it going down hill I’m like.. PICK IT ALL AND MAKE BASIL! I just don’t get it!
This recipe looks so delicious!
It’s seriously SO delicious!
I have the same issues with basil as you do. It looks great for awhile then I could come out the next day and it is attacked by something. So I try and buy it fresh when I can and enjoy all the pesto I can. Great recipe. Thanks for sharing at Party at My Place
It’s so frustrating!!
Taylor-Made Homestead says
My basil is going crazy and I’m looking for some cooler dishes for the hot Texas summer. This recipe sure fits the bill. Love it – Pinned! Thanks for sharing. (visiting from the Simply Natural Saturdays Blog Hop)
Yes! It’s definitely perfect for hot days (I make the pasta when I first wake up in the morning and the house is still a little cool!)
Mmmm. I love pesto, and never thought to use ricotta to cut sown on the fat. We grow basil every year. Some years we get a great harvest, other years disease takes over. So at least you’re not alone with having trouble with the plant! You might want to try rosemary. We’ve successfully grown three plants with little extra care.
I’ve heard that rosemary is super sturdy and hard to kill, which is what I need! Thanks for the suggestion!
looks delicious, and wonderful to “meet” you on craft schooling Sunday! please note that for future food contributions (hope to see you back at the party!) I only accept recipes that could be made by those who keep kosher, meaning no mixing milk and meat, and no shellfish or pork, thanks so much!
Delicious! I can’t eat dairy so I have a vegan recipe I use, but I so wish I could try this one! Thanks for sharing with Simply Natural Saturdays!
Yummy yummy yummy I love pesto. Thanks for sharing this recipe, would be a delicious Mommy’s-at-home-by-herself dinner 🙂
Ginger Wroot says
Our basil pesto stars must be aligned, because I just posted a recipe for this fab and flavorful condiment! Pinned, and can’t wait to try your rockin’ pasta salad! –Ginger
This looks like an amazing dinner idea. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us at Merry Monday this week!
Yum! I am cooking with pesto a lot this summer! I love avocado pesto sauce (avocado, basil, garlic, salt, EVOO).
Danita Carr says
I love pasta salad, and this looks like a great recipe! Thanks for sharing at #SmallVictories linkup!
Jennifer Dawn says
This look so good! I love pesto pasta and can’t wait to try this one. Just wanted to let you know that we’re featuring your recipe at our weekly link party. http://www.thelifeofjenniferdawn.com/2016/06/farmers-market-meals-and-little-bird.html
April J Harris says
I can grow basil on the windowsill, but sometimes I struggle to grow it in the garden! Love this Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad – what a lovely summer recipe. What a great idea to sub in a cup of spinach for a cup of the basil. I’m always trying to ‘hide’ spinach in things! Thank you for sharing with our Hearth and Soul HOp.
Easy Peasy Life Matters says
This sounds to die for!!! Pinned! 🙂
I am a basil killer too! 🙁 My chives also bit the dust this year. I love pesto on warm pasta, I bet it tastes amazing in this recipe too!