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Pesto Pasta Salad

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Delicious flavors of pesto and two extra veggies with a simple twist, making this pesto pasta salad the perfect version for kids

Pesto Pasta Salad with banana side dish

Pasta Salad for a Party

Whether it’s a picnic, potluck or a side dish for a barbecue, pasta salad is the perfect dish.  This Pesto Pasta Salad is bursting with fresh flavor – basil and pine nuts from the pesto, juicy cherry tomatoes and sweet popping green peas.  Kids love to eat string cheese, and we almost always have it on hand.  When you cut it up, it makes the perfect bite-size pieces of cheese for kids to eat.  Pasta salad is great dish to bring to a gathering because it comes together really easily, has fresh and tasty ingredients, and can hold up if it sits out for a bit.

Pesto Pasta Salad Ingredients

How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad

The hardest part of making this recipe is cutting the tomatoes in half……. so it’s one of those easy peasy recipes!  The key to making a good pasta salad is choosing a noodle that can hold its texture and absorb the flavors of the dressing you put on it.  In this case, the pesto.  You want each noodle-y bite to have the

delicious savory/sweet flavors of classic basil pesto.  When the pasta has just a couple minutes left to cook, add the frozen peas and let them cook together.  When the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and then combine with the pesto and cherry tomatoes.  Let it cool to room temperature, then add the cubed cheese at the end and toss to combine.  Chill before serving.

Pesto Pasta Salad with cherry tomatoes and peas

How to Make Your Own Pesto

Homemade fresh pesto is definitely amazing, but can be more expensive than buying it at the store.  However, you may just like the flavor and texture of pesto you make yourself!  It is so fresh and you can control how thick or runny to make your pesto.  And it really only takes about 5 minutes to make your own if you have the ingredients.   If that is the case, here are some tips for making basil pesto at home:

  • Keep your pine nuts in the fridge – you can buy a big bag at Costco (and although pricey) it will last forever.
  • Lightly pack the basil leaves in a measuring cup.
  • You can add full cloves of garlic because your food processor will mince it for you.
  • Use a food processor, not a blender – the texture is much better!
Pesto Pasta Salad with bananas side dish

If you need to take a pasta salad to a party:

Pesto Pasta Salad

Delicious flavors of pesto and two extra veggies with a simple twist, making this pesto pasta salad the perfect version for kids

3 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pesto Pasta Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 421kcal


  • 8 ounce penne pasta, dry
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 8 ounce mozzarella cheese

Serve With

  • 2 medium banana


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Add the peas when there is two minutes remaining. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer until pasta is cooked, then drain.
  • Cut tomatoes in half and add to pasta, along with the pesto. Stir to combine, then let pasta cool to room temperature.
  • Dice mozzarella into small cubes (or use drained Boccaccio balls), and gently toss to combine.
  • Serve sliced bananas on the side.
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Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 358mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 13g
Pesto Pasta Salad | Healthy Recipes for Kids

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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