You are Here: Home/ Summer Flavors / Picnic-Perfect Pesto Pasta Salad

Picnic-Perfect Pesto Pasta Salad

This picnic-perfect pesto pasta salad recipe is full of fresh, enchanting summer flavors! Sweet corn, golden cherry tomatoes, chopped olives, mozzarella pearls and a creamy, light pesto sauce make this pasta salad one of my favorite summer picnic side dishes!

The pasta and corn take only 10 minutes to boil, and your other ingredients take only 10 minutes to prepare! With just a little bit of time for cooling, the entire recipe takes only 30 minutes!

A bowl of pesto pasta salad with corn, olives, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

Picnic-Perfect Pesto Pasta Salad

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like eating off my lap at picnics… or any time, really. I also don’t like the mess of disposable plates. I’d rather serve snacks in a way that’s simple for my guests, that makes as little mess as possible, so I thought I’d serve this pesto pasta salad in pretty jars with lovely fabric tops at my Labor Day picnic this year. They went so nicely with the little dill chicken salad sandwiches that I made!

My picnic was marigold themed, so I tied my sandwiches with white and gold string, used the brightest corn and cherry tomatoes for my pesto salad, found the sunniest yellow fabric for my jar tops and tried to make everything nice and golden.

Fabric-covered jars of pasta salad and wrapped sandwiches in a lace-lined tray with a bouquet of marigold flowers.

A Few Tips!

1. Don’t use store-bought pesto for this recipe

The loveliness of this recipe is in the simplicity and freshness of the ingredients, and everyone knows, fresh basil is one of the more wonderful summer flavors of all. Pesto is so simple to make, and if you make it just once, I promise, you’ll never use store-bought pesto again when you taste what you’ve been missing.

2. Go for the fancy olives

Again, in simple recipes like this, quality is key. Go to the fancy olive section of your food store, and choose the nicest ones you can find. It will make all the difference.

A bowl of pesto pasta salad with corn, olives, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

A Few Common Questions:

1. Should this pesto pasta salad be served cold?

Yes. In fact, this recipe should only be served cold. The pesto sauce is made with sour cream and mayo to make it extra creamy, and you don’t want to heat that up.

2. How long will it last?

If stored in a container with a lid, it will stay fresh for at least a week if refrigerated. Although you’ll notice the “tangy-ness” will diminish a bit after about 2 days. To brighten it back up again, simply mix another ½ cup of mayo with 1-2 tbsp. of white balsamic vinegar, and stir it into the pasta before serving.

3. How many people will this recipe serve?

You can easily serve 10 people with this recipe, so for smaller groups, cut the recipe in half.

4. What do I need to make pesto pasta salad?

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Large Pot
  • Food processor
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife

And If you want to serve them in pretty jars…

  • 10 8 oz. mason jars
  • Scissors
  • Baker’s string
  • 1 Rubber band
  • 10 squares of fabric (large enough to cover the tops)

Jars of pasta salad, topped with fabric tops, tied with baker's string.

How to Make Picnic Perfect Pesto Pasta Salad – Step by Step

1. Boil 16 oz. of Rotelle pasta in 3 quarts of water for 10 minutes, strain and run under cold water till cool. About 30 seconds. Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in 1 tbsp. of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself as it cools further. Set aside.

2. Add more water to your pot (enough to cover 3 ears of corn) and bring to a boil. While the water heats, make your pesto sauce. In a food processor, add 1 cup of packed basil leaves, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. pine nuts (or pepitas) and 4 tbsp. fresh grated parmesan. Process until very well combined.

3. In a mixing bowl or measuring cup, combine pesto with ¾ cup mayonnaise, ¾ cup sour cream, and 4 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar and stir. Set aside.

4. When your pot is boiling, add the corn. Boil for 5-7 minutes. When finished, place corn in cold water to cool it down for about 5 minutes.

A step-by-step process showing how to make pesto pasta salad.

5. While your corn boils, chop 1 cup of yellow cherry tomatoes in half. Set aside.

6. Chop 1 cup of olives into bite size pieces. Set aside.

7. Slice your cooled corn carefully down the sides of the husks.

8. First, mix the pesto sauce with another 3 tbsp. of freshly grated parmesan into the pasta thoroughly. Then, mix in your olives, corn and 1 cup of mozzarella pearls. Finally, gently mix in your cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

A step-by-step process showing how to make pesto pasta salad.

To Make the Pretty Fabric-Top Mason Jars…

1. Carefully fill 10 8 oz. jars with pasta salad.

2. If you don’t want to fuss with jar tops (which often tend to go missing at picnics) place tin foil on the tops instead.

3.  Cut squares from fabric that are just big enough to cover the tops.

4. Place a rubber band around the fabric to hold it easily to the jar while you tie a little bow around it with baker’s string. Remove the rubber band, and trim the corners off of the fabric.

A step by step process showing how to make pasta salad jars.

Everyone will simply love your picnic-perfect pesto pasta salad jars!

Help Yourself to More Picnic Inspiration!

See all of my Summer Recipes or…

And for even more inspiration, follow me on INSTAGRAM @shekeepsalovelyhome, on PINTEREST and FACEBOOK! And if you ever make any of my tasty drinks or treats, take a picture and tag me. I want to see!

A bowl of pesto pasta salad with corn, olives, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Picnic Perfect Pesto Pasta Salad

This picnic-perfect pesto pasta salad recipe is full of fresh, enchanting summer flavors! Sweet corn, golden cherry tomatoes, chopped olives, mozzarella pearls and a creamy, light pesto sauce make this pasta salad one of my favorite summer picnic side dishes!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: pesto pasta salad
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 481kcal

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large pot
  • Food processor
  • Mixing spoon
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife

Ingredients

  • 16 oz.

    Rotelle pasta

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves - packed
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts - or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 7 tbsp. parmesan cheese - freshly grated
  • ¾

    cup mayonnaise
  • ¾

    cup sour cream
  • 4 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup mozzarella pearls
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes - sliced
  • 3 ears corn - shucked
  • 1 cup olives - fancy

Instructions

  • Boil 16 oz. of Rotelle pasta in 3 quarts of water for 10 minutes, strain and run under cold water till cool. About 30 seconds. Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in 1 tbsp. of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself as it cools further. Set aside.
  • Add more water to your pot (enough to cover 3 ears of corn) and bring to a boil. While the water heats, make your pesto sauce. In a food processor, add 1 cup of packed basil leaves, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. pine nuts (or pepitas) and 4 tbsp. fresh grated parmesan. Process until very well combined. 
  • In a mixing bowl or measuring cup, combine pesto with ¾ cup mayonnaise, ¾ cup sour cream, and 4 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar and stir. Set aside.
  • When your pot is boiling, add the corn. Boil for 5-7 minutes. When finished, place corn in cold water to cool it down for about 5 minutes.
  • While your corn boils, chop 1 cup of yellow cherry tomatoes in half, chop 1 cup of olives into bite size pieces, and slice your cooled corn carefully down the sides of the husks.
  • First, mix the pesto sauce with another 3 tbsp. of freshly grated parmesan into the pasta thoroughly. Then, mix in your olives, corn and 1 cup of mozzarella pearls. Finally, gently mix in your cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Notes

A Few Tips!
1. Don’t use store-bought pesto for this recipe
The loveliness of this recipe is in the simplicity and freshness of the ingredients, and believe me, fresh basil is one of the more wonderful summer flavors of all. Pesto is so simple to make, and if you make it just once, I promise, you’ll never use store-bought pesto again when you taste what you’ve been missing.
2. Go for the fancy olives
Again, in simple recipes like this, quality is key. Go to the fancy olive section of your food store, and choose the nicest ones you can find. It will make all the difference.
 
A Few Common Questions:
1. Should Pesto Pasta Salad be Served Cold?
Yes. In fact, this recipe should only be served cold. The pesto sauce is made with sour cream and mayo to make it extra creamy, and you don’t want to heat that up.
2. How Long Will it Last?
If stored in a container with a lid, it will stay fresh for at least a week if refrigerated. Although you’ll notice the “tangy-ness” will diminish a bit after a day or so. To brighten it back up again, simply mix another half-cup of mayo with 1 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar, and stir it into the pasta before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 481kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 511mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 379IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 203mg | Iron: 1mg

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply

shares