With summer in full swing and our gardens lush with fresh herbs, it’s the perfect time to start the harvest. With scissors in hand, I clipped my homegrown basil and whizzed it up to use in this terrific, adaptable Pesto Pasta Salad!

This Easy Pasta Salad packs a huge punch of flavor with an easy pesto salad dressing, chicken, pepperoni, black olives, artichoke hearts, and more!

Pesto Pasta Salad in a flat white serving bowl with a silver serving spoon

Why You Must Make this Pesto Salad

  • It’s the perfect use for your summer basil crop!
  • This pesto salad is highly adaptable. Add in or leave out any ingredients!
  • It’s great for summer picnics and potlucks!

A variation of this easy pasta salad recipe appears in Winners, the Junior League of Indianapolis’ first cookbook. I’ve eaten it at numerous parties and even had a batch delivered to my door when I had a newborn in tow. Pretty much all foodies in Indy know of its existence.

How to Adapt This Recipe

It’s a terrific recipe for inspiration, but the pesto dressing is made with dried basil and marjoram. I knew I could improve upon that. Like any pasta salad, this beauty can be made according to your family’s preferences. Artichoke hearts are a must and I love the color contrast of red bell peppers and peas.

Adding chicken and pepperoni make this a legitimate lunch (or if you’re me, a just as fabulous dinner). An extra dose of Parmesan would also be nice as would chunks of fresh mozzarella. Tweak away!

Pesto Pasta Salad in a white bowl with two red handled forks

Easy Pasta Salad Recipe

It’s been a full year since we started this blogger group where 12 of us gather each month to create a party menu or cook to a theme. Barb, our fearless leader, chose herbs for July, and you’ll find the terrific lineup below. These innovative blogging friends will have your mouth watering in no time. Be sure to click through to check out the terrific recipes.

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is Cooking with Herbs and is hosted by Barb Keibel who blogs at Creative Culinary. With so many marvelous herbs available during the summer, it’s time to start cooking!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. This Pesto Pasta Salad is made with homemade basil pesto and is terrific for casual entertaining!

Cooking with Herbs

Progressive Eats
Overhead view of pesto pasta salad in a white bowl on a red and white checked napkin
Pesto Pasta Salad Pasta with a pesto dressing and so much more!

Pesto Pasta Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 10-12 servings

A delicious, highly adaptable pasta salad dressed with pesto and full of meats and vegetables! Adapted from Winners Cookbook.



  • 1/4-1/2 cup homemade pesto (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 10 ounces cooked pasta (favorite shape, cooked in salted water, drained and cooled)
  • 10 ounces artichoke hearts, cut in half
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup black or green olives, cut in half
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large chicken breast, cooked, cooled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup pepperoni or salami, cut into bite sized pieces if needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, then rinsed and dried.
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese


  1. Whisk together pesto and mayonnaise. Start with ¼ cup of pesto and add more if desired. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients except for the salt and pepper. Gently toss with the dressing, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.
  3. If making your own pesto, place basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and a large pinch of salt in bowl of food processor. Process till smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  4. Mix together cheeses, then add to basil mixture and mix by hand till combined.
  5. If not using immediately, store in refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed over surface.


Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
This salad is very adaptable. Leave out ingredients you don't want. Add other vegetables like broccoli, blanched snow peas, green onions, red onions. Change up the pasta shape or use tortellini.
A classic pesto recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan.
Pasta Salad recipe adapted from Winners.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 416mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 10g

Thatskinnychickcanbake.com occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although thatskinnychickcanbake.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on thatskinnychickcanbake.com recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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