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Pesto Pasta Salad

rate this recipe:
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins
Serves 4 to 6
This pesto pasta salad recipe is a fresh, delicious summer side dish! Make it gluten-free by using your favorite gluten-free rotini pasta. Vegan.


  • 1 recipe Basil Pesto, made with an additional ¼ cup olive oil (½ cup total)
  • 12 ounces Cellentani, Cavatappi, or Fusilli pasta
  • ¾ cup pasta water
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced into very thin rounds*
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced into very thin rounds*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • Red pepper flakes, optional


  • Prepare the pesto and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly past al dente. Before draining the pasta, scoop ¾ cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and toss it with a little olive oil so that it doesn’t stick together. Spread the pasta on a baking sheet and let it (and the reserved pasta water) cool to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl combine the pasta, zucchini, yellow squash, pesto, the reserved pasta water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and toss. Season to taste. Top with the pine nuts, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes, if using. Serve the salad at room temperature.


*I like to slice these on a mandoline so that my slices are thin enough to enjoy raw in this pasta salad.