This easy Mediterranean pesto pasta salad recipe comes together in minutes and is perfect to go along with that summer BBQ! It’s loaded with lots of delicious ingredients, like basil pesto, black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and feta. It’s sure to disappear fast!
Hi friends! Sharing a super simple pesto pasta salad recipe. Well, not just any pasta salad recipe … a Mediterranean pasta salad with feta, to be exact.
What I love about this time of year is the casual cooking, especially being out on the deck grilling and taking in the lovely weather (when we can here in Newfoundland).
I don’t know about you, but I always, always, go for any side on my plate before I reach for the main. It’s not even a conscious thing, I just love them.
Whenever I think of summer eats, pasta salad always comes to mind. This one is surely gonna make your belly happy!
Fan of pasta salad recipes? Try this Greek pasta salad!
Why this Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe is Great!
- Comes together in about 20 minutes!
- Great potluck recipe for summer get-togethers
- Jam-packed with flavour
- “Pesto pasta salad” is super fun to say, LOL.
Type of Pasta to Use
I opted for rotini, which is something I most often use for pasta salad recipes. However, a similarly sized noodle works great too. Penne, fusilli, cavatappi or even elbow macaroni are other great pasta options.
How Should I Cook Pasta? Should I Rinse It?
Normally, when I cook pasta, I opt for “al dente” so that it still has a little bite. However, when cooking pasta to be used in a pasta salad recipe, I always cook a little bit more, like a minute or two after al dente.
Why? Because pasta salad is meant to be enjoyed cooler. When pasta cools, it firms up a little. If you cook the pasta to al dente, then it will be extra toothsome or firm when eating.
Having said that, if you enjoy pasta being on the firmer side, by all means, do what you like best.
There’s no need to rinse cooked pasta under cold water. Instead, drain pasta, toss with a tiny bit of olive oil and spread on a baking tray to cool.
Now, if you’re in a pinch, it’s okay to rinse the pasta to cool down.
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Can I Use Gluten Free Pasta?
Absolutely! Just sub in your favourite gluten-free pasta for the regular variety.
Can I Make Pasta Salad Ahead of Time?
I love to enjoy this pasta salad right away, but you can make up to a day ahead and properly store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Because pesto has oil in it, it may seize up a bit in the fridge. When ready to enjoy, remove the basil pasta salad from the refrigerator and allow to sit out 10 to 15 minutes before enjoying so the pesto may loosen.
What to Serve with Pasta Salad
What can’t ya serve with this pasta salad?! It goes delicious with so many things, like:
- Grilled chicken
- BBQ steak
- Fish, like halibut or cod (or your fave variety)
- Have with soup for a soup & salad lunch situation
- Nice, toasty grilled bread
- Sandwich, burger or wrap
- With a slice of your fave pizza or flatbread
Or you could simply enjoy this Mediterranean pesto pasta salad as is and call it a day!
Tips and Variations
- If you like more of a particular ingredient, say, sun-dried tomatoes, add more! If you like less, add a little less. There’s no right or wrong here.
- Don’t forget to season your pasta water with salt when cooking. It infuses the pasta with flavour!
- Want things looser (i.e. saucier), but don’t want to add more pesto? Try a splash or two of water.
- I used about ¾ of a pound of pasta, or roughly 4 cups (uncooked). Brands of pasta could vary in package size, so just keep that in mind when preparing this recipe.
- Mix it up! Fresh basil, baby spinach or baby kale would also work instead of baby arugula.
- Trying to keep things dairy free? Use dairy-free pesto and omit the feta.
- I used store-bought basil pesto, but you could totally use homemade if you prefer.
- If you really enjoy arugula, try this lemony arugula pesto instead of basil pesto.
More Yummy Summer Salads
If you make this easy pasta salad recipe, be sure to leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed! Thank you!
Mediterranean Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe (with feta)
- 12 ounces uncooked rotini pasta (a 375 gram box or about ¾ pound or roughly 4 cups of uncooked pasta)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ to 1 cup basil pesto (depending on how much sauce you want)
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- ⅓ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I used sun-dried tomatoes in oil and drained).
- ⅓ cup olives , pitted and sliced or roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup marinated artichokes , roughly chopped
- ¼ cup minced fresh chives
- 2 to 3 cups baby arugula , loosely packed (about 2 to 3 handfuls)
- ½ cup cubed feta cheese (or you can crumble, if you prefer)
- Cook pasta per package instructions (a little more than 'al dente' as pasta will firm up as it cools). Drain well and toss with olive oil (to prevent noodles from sticking together) and spread out onto a baking sheet to cool while you're preparing remainder of ingredients. OR, in a pinch, drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.
- Place cooked pasta in a large bowl, stir in pesto (start with ¾ cup). Then, stir in red wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, marinated artichokes and chives. Note: if you want things more saucy, stir in remaining ¼ cup of basil pesto.
- Stir in arugula.
- Finally, stir in feta. Serve.
Nutrition estimate (if provided) is based on 1 Serving.
Nutrition information (if provided) is provided as a courtesy and should be considered an estimate only. Ingredients can vary and Girl Heart Food makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are guidelines only.