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Taking two beloved summertime dishes, pesto pasta and caprese salad to make for the ultimate backyard cookout side dish. This Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad is flavorful, bright and such a fun twist on the classes pasta salad. Bring it along for a picnic, or pair it with protein for a light dinner.
Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad
This gluten-free Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad is one of my all-time favorite pasta salads on the site (and that’s saying a lot because we have so many of them!). This summertime side-dish is a mash up of some classic dishes and they pair so well together. Caprese salads are my go-to all-time favorite Summer dish, but combining it with pesto pasta just makes it all that more amazing.
There is something so perfect about the simple combination of mozzarella cheese, basil, and tomatoes. Toss in some pesto and gluten-free pasta and you are left with the perfect filling, creamy, flavorful, and delicious make-ahead side-dish for any occasion!
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. For the full quantities and details, keep scrolling.
- Arugula or Baby Spinach
- Olive Oil
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Roasted Red Peppers
- Marinated Artichokes
- Salt and Pepper
- Italian Seasoning
- Parmesan Cheese
Pasta: We’ve used gluten-free elbow pasta here, but obviously use whatever pasta you typically like in your pasta salads!
Need to make this dairy-free? You can omit the mozzarella in the pasta salad and the parmesan cheese and the pasta salad will still taste really great, since there are a lot of other flavors going on.
Walnuts: Feel free to omit the nuts in the pesto recipe, or use this Nut Free Basil Pesto.
Greens: The pesto calls for either arugula or baby spinach. We love that added extra vitamins. Feel free to swap in any greens you have on hand here!
What Type of Pesto to Use
One of the things I really love about this recipe is that the pesto has some hidden veggies in it! I’ve included a pesto recipe directly below with some arugula or spinach in it. Nobody will know you’ve swapped out some basil for veggies.
However, you can also use store-bought pesto here too!
Proteins to Pair to Make it a Meal
This is the perfect side dish to pair with just about any grilled main dish, but it would also make a great summer dinner or lunch meal prep. Pair it with a protein to make it a but more substantial:
- Grilled or shredded chicken
- Cooked Italian sausage
- Hard boiled eggs
Watch the video here:
If you like this pasta salad, check out these others:
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Gluten-Free Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad
Summer Greens Pesto :
- 1 cup arugula or baby spinach
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper more to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes more to taste
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan optional
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil more as necessary when blending
- For Pasta Salad
- 12 ounce gluten-free pasta cooked
- 8 ounces small mozzarella balls ciliegine or bocconcini, halved
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup roasted red peppers diced
- 1/3 cup marinated artichokes chopped
- 3/4 cup fresh basil sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sea salt more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper more to taste
- Place all pesto ingredients except for extra-virgin olive oil in a food processor or high speed blender. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. While machine is going, slowly pour in extra-virgin olive oil until you have reached a thick and creamy sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside until ready to use.
- Add cooked pasta, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, basil, Italian seasoning, sea salt, red pepper flakes, ground pepper to a large bowl.
- Add in the pesto and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve!
Can you make the pesto in advance?
I LOVE caprese salad and this combo with the pesto dressing sounds so good! Perfect for summer.
This looks amazing! Do you find that the Tinkyada pasta is a good texture cold? I find that most gluten free pasta gets really tough when it’s cold. I’d be excited for find one that isn’t!
This salad is summer in a bowl- looove the idea of adding artichokes too. Enjoying perusing your gorgeous, sunny blog!
Caprese flavors are my FAV! I could eat this pasta salad as I meal – NEED!