Traditional recipes

Pesto and mozzarella pasta salad recipe

Pesto and mozzarella pasta salad recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Salad
  • Pasta salad

Pasta is tossed with pesto, fresh mozzarella, ripe cherry tomatoes and fresh basil to create this colourful pasta salad.

93 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 120g fusilli or penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons pesto, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 75g baby tomatoes, halved
  • 120g mozzarella bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella)
  • 2 leaves fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:10min ›Ready in:20min

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil; cook the pasta until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 - 10 minutes; drain and cool.
  2. Mix pesto, olive oil, salt, garlic granules and black pepper in a bowl; add cooked pasta. Toss to coat. Fold in tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(136)

Reviews in English (95)

A very simple recipe, but has a nice, summery taste to it.-01 May 2016

Perfect recipe, I make this all the time !!!! V light and delicious-19 May 2018

by Molly

Yum, Yum, Yum – we thoroughly enjoyed this pasta salad made with tomatoes and basil from our garden. I mixed this up in the morning to give the flavors time to marry, with the exception of the basil. I added the basil about 30 minutes before serving so that it would be fresh. This is an outstanding salad with lots of flavor. It will be repeated in our house. Thank you, blondeprincess, for sharing your recipe!-05 Nov 2013

Orzo Pesto Salad With Tomatoes & Fresh Mozzarella

With classic Caprese flavours of tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella, orzo pesto salad is a great make-ahead side dish for any meal!

I love making pasta salad with orzo. A small, rice-shaped pasta, orzo has a nice chewy texture when cooked and doesn’t get soggy the way other larger noodles do. You can find orzo in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores.

This is a fresh summer salad and can be made with your favourite garden vegetables, however, I highly recommend making your own pesto if you have time. Use my spinach arugula pesto recipe as a guide, and swap in any greens or herbs you like for the spinach and arugula if you want. Straight up basil is classic!

Orzo pesto salad is also a great make-ahead side dish It tastes even better the second day! I like to serve it at room temperature, however, it’s also good served cold or warm.

Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of the post, or scroll to the bottom of the post, to see the full recipe card with ingredient measurements and instructions.

Pesto Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Creamy Parmesan basil pesto, tossed with fresh pasta, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese creates this zesty Pesto Pasta Mozzarella Salad!


  • 4 cups Water
  • 2-½ cups Dry, Mini Farfalle Pasta
  • 2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 8 ounces, weight Container Cherry Mozzarella Balls
  • ½ jars (12 Oz. Size) Hidden Valley Parmesan Basil Pesto Sandwich Spread & Dip
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Sliced Black Olives, To Taste (optional)


In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil. Generously salt water, then add the dry pasta. Bring to a boil and cook according to package instructions for al dente. Then drain and rinse with cold water.

Pour pasta into a medium bowl. Add in tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, pesto spread and olive oil. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, and add black olives, if desired.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

1. This salad is very versatile depending on your tastes. Feel free to add in more veggies, use a different type of pasta, or add more seasonings.
2. Pasta will keep refrigerated for up to one week.


Chicken pesto pasta salad– Add cooked cubed or shredded chicken. Use rotisserie chicken to keep it simple.

Add tortellini– Instead of pasta, add tortellini for amore filling salad.

Creamy pesto pasta salad– Mix in mayo, softened cream cheese, cour cream or even alfredo sauce.

Add sun dried tomatoes– This adds texture and a wonderful flavor.

Add nuts– Such as walnuts, pecans, or cashews for crunch.

Try different cheeses- Feta, Gorgonzola, or Parmesan would all taste delicious.

Try a different pesto sauce– Try one containing different herbs such as mint or cilantro OR one with different nuts such as walnuts or pecans OR or one with roasted red peppers added to it.

Add more vegetables– Such as peas, bell peppers, cucumbers, artichokes, or spinach.

Add more herbs and spices– Try adding mint leaves or cilantro for variety. You can also add a little Greek Seasoning or Italian seasoning.

Make is spicy– Add red chili flakes to bring some spice to the salad.


Step 1

Prepare pasta according to package directions until al dente. Rinse in cold water and drain.

Toss cooked pasta with prepared pesto sauce. Cool pasta mixture. Divide fresh baby spinach on serving plates. Arrange pesto pasta mixture on top. Garnish with fresh mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes.

In a food processor or blender, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and half of olive oil. Process steadily until mixture turns into a grainy paste, while adding the rest of the olive oil in.

  • Pasta – Any short pasta works well. Rigatoni, Fusili, Rotini, Elbows and Farfale are good options.
  • Basil Pesto – Homemade or store bought if you want to save some time. My favorite store bought pesto is Kirkland from Costco. Tastes like fresh pesto and the bright color can’t be beat!
  • Asparagus – Thin asparagus work best for this pasta salad recipe.
  • Tomatoes – Small cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes.
  • Peas – Fresh or frozen, although I tend to always use frozen as they are always available.
  • Fresh Mozzarella – You can use mozzarella pearls (see photo) or ciliegine which is about the size of a cherry.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Freshly shredded is always best but if you are short on time buy pre-shredded (no judgment!).
  • Pine Nuts – They can get expensive so I try to buy the exact amount I need from the bulk bins in the supermarket.
  • Italian Dressing – It really gives this salad a nice zing. You can use a combination of white wine vinegar and oil if you don’t have any at home.

The Ingredients

Y’all know I always give the low-down on the ingredients in recipes. Here’s the deets on this one:

Let’s talk about the mozzarella balls for a second. We get ours from Costco which come in a deeeeelish marinade. You can just as easily get plain ones and toss those in! The pesto packs a punch of flavor, so there’s no need to add extra olive oil or seasoning.

If you need a quick recipe, try this five-minute walnut pesto! I make extra during the summer and freeze it to use on pizza and pasta dishes later on.

How to Make Pesto Pasta Salad

  1. You’re going to want to start by cooking your pasta to al dente in salted water. The reason you want to start with this and not necessarily multi-task is because the pasta needs some time to cool before you mix the remaining ingredients in. If you’re short on time however, feel free to rinse your cooked pasta with some cool water to speed up the process!
  2. Next, you’re going to make your pesto (or spoon it out of the jar and into a bowl and pretend you made it yourself…). Put the basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and pine nuts into your food processor and blend until smooth. With your food processor’s motor still running, slowly add in the olive oil until it becomes a paste. Next, add in your Parmesan and slightly mix. You can add in some salt and pepper to taste at this time.
  3. Now it’s assembly time! Put your cooled pasta, peppers, olives, and feta cheese in a large bowl. Add in a few spoonfuls of pesto at a time and mix until it’s dispersed and tastes like you want it to. I like to take a few taste tests as I’m adding in the pesto – you can go from not enough pesto to wayyyyy too much very quickly!

One thing that makes this such an easy pasta salad is that you can assemble it right in your serving bowl! I love that I can go from mixing it all together to putting it on the table in a matter of minutes!

Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad

I’m in the middle of a laundry fiasco. For some reason this year our dryer, dishwasher, AC, and now washing machine have kicked the bucket.

We spent our last date night looking for a new washing machine.

We decided on a washing machine that had a large capacity which means less loads for me and with five kids that means everything.

So today, the delivery guys took our old one out and went to put in the new one and…couldn’t get it through the laundry room doorway! AHHHH!

It was too big by an inch. Which means now we have to exchange it, pick out a smaller one, and schedule a delivery.

Best case scenario I’ll have a new washer in 4 days which in mom time might as well be 2 weeks.

So if you see the Denney family looking a little less fresh, you’ll know why.

It’s important to know that I am obsessed with having clean smelling laundry. I go through dryer sheets and fabric softener like it’s my job.

My friend moved away and I sent her a gift and she said my package smelled like my house.

I hesitantly asked, “And…what does my house smell like?”

Phew. Let’s face it. There are a lot of smells my house could be associated with since 5 kids live here. I’m just glad it was fabric softener.

Would it be weird to have a fabric softener that smelled like pesto.

I could smell pesto all day long which is probably why I love this Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad. It’s pretty simple.

Grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, basil, and pesto tossed with some small pasta – any shape will do.


Any short pasta will do here such as farfalle, rigatoni, penne, elbows, ziti,…you name it.

Now with traditional Caprese Salad there are layers of tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic.

The key to giving that extra bite is to mix a little balsamic in the dressing. Any more than about 1/2 a teaspoon will start to turn your pasta brown.

Of course if you use white balsamic vinegar you can add as much as you want. This screams summer!!

What you will need to make Pesto Pasta Salad:

  • Colander – this kitchen essential makes life so much easier! You can use it to drain pasta or wash veggies and fruit.
  • Cutting Board- A big good solid cutting board so you can prep all your veggies on one surface. I use my cutting board daily so it’s worth the investment.
  • Quality Knives- Quality knives make prep time much quicker and are important for safety as well. If you make one kitchen investment, I believe it should be in quality knives.

With love from our simple kitchen to yours.

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