Recipe for Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto is the true winner in this easy and delicious recipe that will have you putting this on repeat! Pasta Salad is always a huge hit and the Italian flavors in this Pesto Pasta Salad will have you running to the store to get everything you need. 
pesto pasta salad from @createdbydiane
If you’re like me after you make it a couple of times, you’ll stock up and…
Keep the items for this recipe in the freezer!
So then you can make it on a moment’s notice!

I often buy the refrigerated pesto and freeze the containers, especially when they are on sale. (a jar of pesto will work as well no need to freeze it)

Next, I buy a large bag of sundried tomatoes and portion out servings into small plastic freezer bags.

Next is the cheese, I freeze chunks of  cheese (if I fear I’ll run out of my Romano cheese in the fridge any time soon) Place all those items and a box of frozen spinach in a gallon zipper freezer bag, and then all your need to add is the pasta.

I prefer to make it now using fresh baby spinach, chopped. (but when I first started making this 20+ years ago there was no baby spinach… Oh, how I love all the new fresh varieties of vegetables!

Believe me, when you get invited to go somewhere last minute this is SO helpful. Often we can’t think of what to make with what we have on hand at a moment’s notice…

but having this in the freezer saves TIME and the stress of what to make. 

This pesto pasta salad comes to the RESCUE!

When the weather starts to warm up, I love pasta salad. Don’t you?

This recipe is an all-time favorite!

I’ve been asked to share this recipe numerous times over the years and was surprised I hadn’t shared it, until today.

It only takes minutes to put together and is a great dish to bring to a BBQ or party, also great to have in the refrigerator for lunch and if you prefer you can heat it up as well. My kids love it and my son does not like tomatoes but likes these moist sundried tomatoes.

pesto pasta salad

What makes this pasta salad so good?

There is pesto… and spinach, I typically use frozen spinach, but have used chopped fresh spinach for a fun fresh flavor option, and there is the great flavor of sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, then top it off with romano cheese and WOW you have a true winner, it’s all mixed into cooked cold pasta and VIOLA in under 30 minutes this is the recipe to make.

Perfect for weeknight parties, BBQs, gatherings, and the such.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Can I use regular tomatoes instead of sun-dried tomatoes?

Yes, small grape tomatoes work well in this pasta salad, cut in half.

If I don’t have frozen spinach, can I use fresh spinach?

Yes, just saute it until it wilts, then chop it and allow it to cool then add it to the pasta salad.

Can I make this pasta salad ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this the day before serving and the flavor of the recipes seems to enhance. If the sauce on it seems to have absorbed too much (this can happen if the pasta isn’t completely cooled before adding the pesto) add a tablespoon of oil and give it a stir.

I just LOVE pasta and this lemon pasta salad recipe is always a favorite too!

Pesto Pasta Salad

What type of pasta can I use?

I like penne, bow-tie, macaroni, and rotini, but most shapes will work fine.

Can I make fresh pesto for this?

Yes, of course. You’ll puree oil, basil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese together in a food processor. Add a little lemon juice so that the pesto stays green.

Can I add chicken to this?

Yes, Add a cup and a half of cooked chicken to this recipe. Additionally, toss it in some pesto before putting it in the dish for added flavor.

Be sure to check out my latest pasta salad this fun Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe as well.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then rinse it well in cold water. toss with pesto to coat eh pasta, then stir in all the rest of the ingredients.

PESTO pasta salad recipe

What options are there for the ingredients:

  • spinach: fresh, or frozen
  • sun-dried tomatoes: in oil, dried
  • Romano cheese: parmesan cheese will work too
  • pine nuts: walnuts are a great option

Pesto Feta Pasta Salad sounds yummy…

if you want this to taste more Greek than Italian, add feta cheese to replace the Romano/Parmesan Cheese.

How can I make this pasta salad vegan?

leave out the cheese or use a vegan cheese.


Recipe for Pesto Pasta Salad

A fast and easy meal that is great for parties and weekday lunches that has great flavor and is simple to put together.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 -8 servings


  • 1 pound cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped dry or in oil
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained (give it a quick chop so it's bite-sized) or 5 oz fresh spinach chopped
  • 1 cup grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto


  • Cook the pasta according to the package.
  • Once the pasta is drained, rinse it in cold water until the pasta is no longer hot. You can soak it in ice water with ice cubes to quicken this step up.
  • Mix the paste with 1/4 cup of pesto.
  • Next, you'll add in the spinach. If you want to thaw spinach quickly place it in a bowl of cold water in the box, or use the defrost feature of your microwave to thaw it. Drain the spinach by squeezing out all the excess water.
  • Add the sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts and stir in the remaining pesto.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately, or it can be covered and refrigerated until you're ready to eat.


pesto pasta salad @createdbydiane

pesto pasta salad @createdbydiane


  1. I love pasta salad and am always looking for new ways to prepare it! This sounds wonderful. Glad you shared it. Love the sundried tomatoes and spinach it..healthy:)

  2. We love anything made with pesto! I don’t know why I don’t make pasta salads more often – that’s why I need friends like you to remind me with pretty pictures:) I just slow-roasted some Roma tomatoes yesterday, and there is a fresh basil plant outside my door:) I love simple and delicious!

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