This pasta salad is probably going to be your go to dish to bring to potlucks, bbqs, or even picnics because of how quick and effortless it is to put together!
This recipe is the perfect way to get your greens in! One day I ventured into Costco and decided to check out the Kirkland brand Pesto. Sometimes store bought pesto can be quite hit or miss, but the Kirkland brand one was definitely a hit! I came home and boiled some pasta and just stirred it in. The pesto was absolutely delicious and I didn’t even need to add any extra seasoning into it.
I remember back in the days Starbucks used to sell cold pasta salads and it definitely gave me inspiration to put this dish together. Since I made a huge tray, I had a lot of leftovers, so I decided to switch things up and eat it as a cold pasta salad. I literally threw in some leftover spring mix, cherry tomatoes, and some cubed cheese and that is exactly how this recipe came to be.
The best part about this recipe is that it's super customizable! If you don't like spring mix, just add any leafy greens you do enjoy. You can also include cucumbers, bell peppers, or even change the protein. Pesto is super versatile and can usually pair well with most ingredients. If you are cooking for your family or just for yourself, you can also just mix in any leftovers you have. If you want to minimize the cooking, buy a rotisserie chicken and cut it up to add in!
- Start by boiling water for your pasta of choice. Cook the pasta according to the boxes instructions. Since this is the only time you will be cooking the noodles, I suggest cooking it a little past al dente.
- If you decided to use grilled chicken, prepare the grilled chicken and cook to your own preference. I use chicken breast that I slice about 1 cm thick. I season both sides with salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. I pan fry for about 3 minutes on each side. Note that everyone’s stove is different so cooking time may vary. Once they’re cooked, set it aside to rest.
- By this point, your noodles should be fully cooked, drain and empty into a large bowl. Add in the pesto of your choice and mix to combine. I use kirkland brand pesto, which is perfectly seasoned for me, so I don’t need to add additional salt. if you use a different brand, taste after mixing and see if you need to add additional salt or more pesto. Store in the fridge to chill afterwards. If plan to serve this warm, I recommend heating on the stove slightly with the pesto.
- Slice up your cherry tomatoes, or for less effort, you may leave them whole. Once sliced, set them aside.
- Slice half of the mozzarella balls, or leave them whole. I personally like to slice half of them into halves to give different textures and it’s more bite size.
- Dice up the chicken, then in a large bowl, combine the pesto pasta with the half of the tomato, mozzarella, and grilled chicken. We will be reserving the other half to garnish the pasta salad. If you don’t really care for presentation, just add in the full amount of tomato, mozzarella, and chicken. Be sure to taste everything at this point and adjust for salt or add more pesto if needed.
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 12 oz Rotini or pasta of your choice
- 2 cups Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
- 2-3 oz Spring Mix or leafy greens of your choice
- 8 oz cubed or balled Mozzarella
- ⅓-1/2 cup of Pesto I use kirkland brand
- 1 lb Grilled Chicken Cubed or protein of your choice
- Cilantro or Basil for Garnish optional
- Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box. Once cooked, drain and empty into a large bowl.
- Mix the pesto with the cooked pasta until combined, then cover and store in the fridge to chill.
- Once chilled, add in ½ of the the sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and cubed chicken and mix to combine. (The other half will be reserved for garnish)
- Add in spring mix and toss lightly to avoid bruising the greens too much.
- Garnish with remaining tomatoes, mozzarella, grilled chicken, and cilantro to create a beautiful presentation.
- Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready to serve.