- 2 cups fresh basil leaves (you can substitute half with parsley for a fragrant, brighter pesto)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, walnuts or macadamia nuts (my preference is walnuts)
- 1 garlic clove, freshly minced
- 1 tsp salt flakes
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra to store, see make ahead notes)
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought pesto
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt flakes
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 300 g pasta (orecchiette, mafalde, fusilli, macaroni or penne)
- 1 tsp salt, for cooking the pasta
- 1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes (roughly 1 x 250 g/9 oz punnet), halved
- 2 cups rocket leaves/arugula
- 220 g baby bocconcini, drained and halved
- 1/2 cup marinated capsicum/bell pepper strips
- 1/4 bunch basil, leaves picked
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- Place the basil leaves (and parsley if using), Parmesan cheese, nuts, garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse for 5-10 seconds, scraping down the sides as needed until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Running the food processor, slowly add the olive oil, scraping down the sides as needed, and blitz until smooth (see note 1).
- Store in an air-tight container. The recipe makes approximately 1 cup of pesto; see the storage instructions below in the make ahead notes.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk well. Alternatively, place the ingredients in a jar, close the lid and shake until well combined.
- Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions, less 1 minute. Rinse under cold running water and drain. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta with the tomatoes, rocket, bocconcini and marinated capsicum. Pour in the dressing and toss to combine.
- Serve the pasta salad on a large platter; top with toasted pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese and serve cold or at room temperature.
Note 1 – This homemade pesto recipe includes a generous amount of seasoning but you can add more to taste. You can also add more olive oil if you prefer a looser pesto.
Pesto – Homemade pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store in an air-tight container and drizzle the top of the pesto with extra olive oil—this is the key to preserving the pesto and keeping it fresh. It may darken over time on the top, but it will be completely fine to eat. Top the pesto generously with olive oil each time after use. Freeze in ice-cube trays for up to 2 months. Thaw completely in the fridge overnight to use.
Pesto Pasta Salad – Pesto Pasta Salad is the perfect salad to make ahead of time, ready for when you need it. Prepare the dressing as per the recipe and store it refrigerated in a jar, for up to 48 hours prior to use (do not dress the salad until you are ready to serve it). Prepare the pasta and have your remaining ingredients washed, cut and ready in separate containers or in reusable sandwich bags, refrigerated, for up to 48 hours. Once you are ready to serve, assemble the individual components on a platter or in a large bowl. The dressing may have separated. Whisk the dressing or give it a shake in a glass jar before tossing it through the salad and serving.
Pesto Pasta Salad – If I know I’m going to be making this pasta salad ahead of time, I follow the make ahead instructions above. However, leftovers can still be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days so there is no waste. I recommend removing the basil prior to refrigerating as it quickly blackens once it is dressed and refrigerated, but otherwise all of the other vegetables are quite hardy and last well, apart from losing a little bit of crispness and vibrance. Bring the salad out of the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to serving for best results.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 12 mins
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Salad
Keywords: pesto pasta salad