A fun twist on an old potluck favorite, this Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad will become your new go-to recipe this summer! Made with an easy homemade pesto dressing and perfect to make ahead!
Pasta salad is my go-to during the hot summer months – for easy backyard picnic lunches just as much as to bring to all the BBQ parties and potlucks.
This one is dedicated to my pesto-loving brother, adding a special twist to my mom’s caprese pasta salad.
It’s easy to make ahead and always disappears quickly!
How to Make Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad:
Should you rinse pasta for pasta salad?
Opinions differ on this one, but I’m impatient and always rinse the pasta under cold water for pasta salad.
I cook the pasta just until it’s barely done (it will soften some in the dressing, and cooking it just until al dente keeps the pasta from turning into a soggy mess), drain it and then rinse it until it’s cold.
Can you make pasta salad the night before?
Yes, that’s the beauty of pasta salads!
The flavors get to mingle and melt together in the fridge overnight, and you’ll end up with a salad that’s even more flavorful.
You might need to add a little more dressing before serving, because the pasta will soak it up.
What main dish goes with pasta salad?
When we have pasta salad for dinner, we love to keep it simple with some grilled or roasted meat on the side.
Some of our favorites:
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- 1 pound rotini pasta cooked, drained and rinsed under cold water
- 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette see note
- 1/2 cup pesto or to taste
- 1 pound halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 pound mini mozzarella balls
- 1 cup sliced black olives
- 1/4 cup finely shredded basil
- Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Cover and refrigerate up to overnight, or serve immediately.