Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad

This incredibly easy pasta salad recipe has a unique sweet & tart sun-dried tomato pesto with nutty herby bright flavors and the addition of smokey roasted red peppers and two types of cheesy goodness for the perfect dish that takes no time at all to make!

Nothing says summer quite like the perfect pasta salad to take on a picnic, great for a cookout, or the star of the potluck. You’ll be making this super quick and easy pasta salad loaded with fresh flavor-filled ingredients all summer long!

One of the best things about pasta salad is how it can be made in advance, developing even more flavor after it’s made. Less time in the kitchen and more time outside creating a zestful summer is a huge goal and this recipe totally hits the spot!

Note: if you do decide to make this in advance, you want to make sure it’s at room temperature before serving to make sure the olive oil isn’t cold and hard.

Pasta Salad Tips

  • Cook your pasta perfectly al dente. The texture is everything to me in a dish and NO ONE wants soft pasta, it should have some chew.
  • Let your pasta slightly completely before tossing it into the sauce. The trick is to let the pasta cool for a few minutes so it’s still warm and will absorb more of the flavors. For the more delicate ingredients like certain vegetables and cheese, you want to wait until the pasta is mostly cooled before adding those.
  • Taste and adjust. This recipe is more of a suggestion, make it the way YOU want to, it’s designed to be flexible so if it needs more oil, some salt, more of your favorite ingredient, or something else you decide! Taste and adjust to create your perfect pasta salad!
  • Save some herbs for garnish! This pasta salad recipe is a great one to make ahead, but if you do, save some of the basil and oregano for garnish.

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe Variations

This pasta salad is fantastic as-is, but feel free to change it up to match your tastes or the ingredients in your pantry. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make it vegan! Simply take out all 3 of the cheeses from the recipe.
  • Make it gluten-free! Chickpea, lentil, or any type of gluten-free pasta would be a great substitute!
  • Add more veg. To bulk up the salad you could ass slices of red onion, artichoke hearts, spinach, fresh tomatoes, arugula, roasted eggplant, or zucchini
  • Add some protein. chicken or shrimp would be a great addition as well as white beans or garbanzos!
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Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad


Units Scale

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

  • 4 oz of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup almonds, roasted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 4 oz of fresh parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pasta Salad

  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1/2 lb short pasta
  • 8oz container of small mozzarella balls, halved
  • 4 oz ricotta salata, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped


  1. To make the pesto combine all the ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil. Pluse the pesto while slowly pouring in the olive oil until a smooth pesto consistency forms
  2. For the pasta salad cook the pasta as directed and drain. Add the pasta to a large bowl and wait 5 or so minutes until the pasta slightly cools before adding the pesto, extra olive oil as needed to thin out the pesto, the chopped bell peppers, and the 2 cheeses.
  3. Stir everything until the pasta is fully coated and all the cheese is well dispersed before plating and enjoying!

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