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Pesto pasta salad on a white plate.
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Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto pasta salad is quick to make but packed with so much flavor. Al dente pasta, lemony basil pesto, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, peppery arugula, parmesan, and crispy prosciutto. It's great for lunch or you can take it to a potluck party or a picnic! This salad is definitely a crowd-pleaser!
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American
Prep Time 23 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 556kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

for the pasta salad:

  • 8 oz (230g) spiral pasta (fusilli) or bowties
  • 1 cup pesto from the recipe below or store-bought
  • 6 slices (85g) prosciutto crudo
  • 20 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • a handful arugula
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 20 mini mozzarella balls
  • 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese cut thinly with a vegetable peeler
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the lemony basil pesto:

  • 3 packed cups (45g) basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (45g) grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or almonds/walnuts
  • zest grated from 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta al dente (it should have a bite to it) according to the package instructions. Drain and let cool slightly. Add to a large bowl.
  • Make crispy prosciutto: you can make it on the stovetop or in the oven. On the stovetop: heat some oil in a non-stick pan, when hot place the prosciutto slices (can't overlap) and cook over medium heat on both sides until browned and crispy. In the oven: preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C), line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lay prosciutto slices in a single layer (can't overlap). Bake for about 12 minutes or until browned and crispy. Transfer to a plate (it will become more crispy while cooling).
  • Make pesto: wash basil and gently pat dry the leaves. Add all the ingredients for the pesto except the olive oil into a food processor. Process until almost smooth. Add the olive oil and gently pulse until just combined (don't mix it at high speed). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add pesto to pasta and toss to combine.
  • Prepare other ingredients: Add cut in half tomatoes, cut in half mozzarella balls, sliced cucumbers, arugula, shaved parmesan cheese (sliced thinly with a vegetable peeler).
  • Toss everything together. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice if needed.
  • Crumble crispy prosciutto over the salad.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • This recipe for basil pesto has been developed specifically for this recipe. It would be too runny and too lemony to use, for example, on a toast. It works perfectly in this pasta salad recipe. If you'd like to try a more traditional pesto recipe, check out this recipe for basil pesto. You could also make parsley pesto (more affordable than basil pesto) or arugula pesto and use it in this recipe but you would need to make it more runny (add more olive oil) and lemony (add lemon zest and more lemon juice).
  • This salad tastes good hot or cold.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!

Nutrition

Calories: 556kcal