This pesto pasta salad features homemade kale pesto, fresh mozzarella cheese, and cherry tomatoes. It’s not only easy to make, but it’s bursting with flavor, feeds a crowd, and keeps for days in the refrigerator. It’s a great make ahead recipe– the flavor is best on day 2 or 3!
Today’s pasta salad takes advantage of spring and summer’s bounty with fresh basil and lots of cherry tomatoes. (By the way, if you love these flavors– you will FLIP for this creamy pesto shrimp recipe.) We love adding a little crunch with pine nuts, but chopped walnuts would be equally as fabulous especially since walnuts are in the pesto itself. We can’t praise this recipe enough– it’s our summer anthem in the form of food.
Why You’ll Love This Pesto Pasta Salad
- Easy to make
- We use homemade kale pesto
- Lots of texture in every bite
- Bright and colorful
- Fresh and flavorful
- Feeds a crowd
- Convenient make-ahead recipe
For today’s pesto pasta salad, we’re using homemade kale pesto. It’s just like basil pesto, but instead of basil we use kale. This kale pesto is extremely versatile– it’s fantastic on grilled meats and fish, warm pasta, pizza, in sandwiches, as a dip, and especially on cold pasta salads.
It’s also bursting with flavor thanks to bright lemon juice and garlic. We’ll also add parmesan cheese, walnuts, a little basil, olive oil, and salt. It tastes much better than store-bought– there is nothing like fresh pesto and you know what? It’s so much easier to make than you think. Just a few pulses in your food processor or blender does the trick.
Basil goes into the pasta salad itself, so if you want to simply use regular basil pesto instead of kale pesto, go for it.
Other Ingredients You Need For Pesto Pasta Salad
In addition to homemade kale pesto, you need 5 more ingredients:
- Pasta: We like to use elbow pasta so the pesto can really seep into the noodles.
- Basil: Fresh basil leaves add lots of flavor.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes add color and texture.
- Mozzarella: We like to use cubed mozzarella cheese, but shredded cheese or mozzarella balls would also work.
- Pine Nuts: Pine nuts add a delicious crunch! You could also use chopped walnuts since walnuts are in the pesto itself.
What To Serve with Pesto Pasta Salad
- Corn on the cob
- Corn fritters or zucchini fritters
- Honey chipotle salmon
- Grilled chicken
- Black bean burgers
This kale pesto mozzarella pasta salad is not only easy to make, but it’s bursting with flavor, feeds a crowd, and keeps for days in the refrigerator.
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 1 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup (65g) chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- juice of 1 lemon (2 Tbsp)
- 1/4 teaspoon – 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound dry pasta (elbow, bow tie, rotini, etc)
- handful fresh basil
- 2 cups (300g) halved cherry tomatoes
- 6 ounces mozzarella, cubed (or shredded or mozzarella balls)
- 3/4 cup (100g) pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pesto. Combine kale, basil and walnuts in a food processor. Pulse until greens and nuts are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, then add olive oil, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste. Run the processor until everything is blended together. Set aside.
- Stir the remaining pasta salad ingredients in with the pasta. Toss with pesto. Add more basil and pine nuts if you wish (I like lots of basil).
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Tastes best on day 2 or 3, so it’s perfect to make ahead of time!