THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY
DeLallo Foods, who I’m so excited to partner & share with you all throughout 2020. Their bronze die extruded pasta is the only pasta I use in my kitchen – it’s the absolute best! All thoughts & opinions are my own.
A whole lot of summery goodness is goin’ down today, & it looks something like this:
- the most perfectly perfect twirly pasta…
- tossed in the most perfectly perfect punchy, basil-y pesto…
- with the BEST simple grilled chicken & summer veggies…
- (…& a whole bunch of baby pearls of fresh mozzarella, because cheese is *heart eyes*!)
In other words, PWWB’s Summer Pesto Pasta is here!
If you’re craving big, bright flavors, but want a fuss-free meal, you’re in the right place! PWWB’s Summer Pesto Pasta recipe is an embodiment of all of the above.
For starters, it’s got plenty of the bold, lemony-basil flavor that’s downright craveable this time of year (thank you very much, DeLallo Simply Pesto!). Plus, it’s tossed with all sorts of end-of-summer goodies – grilled chicken, zucchini & peppers, & some blistery summer tomatoes.
AND, this chicken pesto pasta is beyond easy to throw together. Grill up the chicken & veggies, boil your fave pasta to al dente perfection, & toss it all together with pesto. Boom – done! It’s the perfect 30-ish minute dinner.
Plus, it’s the kind of dish that’s super flexible. You can eat it warm, at room temperature, or cold, so it dances the line between pesto pasta & pesto pasta salad deliciously. Make it for an easy weeknight dinner or whenever you need a show-stopping dish to share at a summer potluck or party. I’ve made this pesto pasta salad countless times already this summer, & it’s gotten rave reviews from everyone who has tried it.
Fresh, fast, flavorful, flexible. What more could you want out of a summer pasta?! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Summer Pesto Pasta Salad recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Ingredients you’ll need for this Summer Pesto Pasta recipe:
Among the many reasons why we love this recipe is the fact that the ingredients are all super simple end-of-summer staples.
You need 10 simple ingredients for this pesto pasta salad:
Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
- Pasta, of course – it wouldn’t be pasta salad without it! I like using cavatappi. Its corkscrew shape is especially great for pasta salads since the dressing gets captured inside the pasta.
- Pesto, of course – it wouldn’t be pesto pasta salad without it! I’ve gushed about it before, but DeLallo Simply Pesto has amazing fresh flavor & you can see the bits of pine nuts throughout it. It’s my all-time favorite jarred pesto!
- Olive oil, which is the heart of the easy-breezy marinade for the grilled chicken & veggies. High-quality olive oil is a must – DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my favorite!
- Lemons – Always use both the zest & the juice in marinades to ensure you’re getting the most flavor out of the lemon.
- Chicken – I prefer to use chicken thighs in this chicken pesto pasta salad since they’re so juicy & flavorful. If you prefer chicken breasts, you can certainly use them instead!
- Summer veggies – I love the combination of zucchini, bell pepper & end-of-summer cherry tomatoes, but you really can use whatever veggies you have in your fridge at the moment.
- & fresh mozzarella pearls – Totally optional, but a little extra cheese never hurt a pesto pasta situation. (Am I right or am I right?!)
A quick note on dried pasta:
DeLallo is my forever go-to. (I’ve written about it many, many times before, so you probably saw that coming!) DeLallo takes the art of pasta-making very seriously, which is one of the many reasons why I love them so much!
All of their pasta is made in Italy with high-quality wheat. Plus, it’s slowly extruded through bronze dies, which creates superior flavored & textured pasta.
This Summer Pesto Pasta starts with the easiest lemony marinade.
The most involved part of this summer pesto pasta salad is grilling up the chicken & veggies, which honestly isn’t too involved at all.
To keep things as simple as possible, while also being as flavorful as possible, this summer pesto pasta starts with the quickest lemony-garlicky marinade – DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, & plenty of garlic. Coat the veggies with the marinade first, transferring them to a second bowl or plate, then coat the chicken in the marinade.
You can do all of this prep right before you throw everything on the grill. Because the marinade is so acidic (it has a lot of lemon juice in it!), you actually don’t want the chicken to sit in it too, too long.
Toss all of the lemony-garlicky goodness on the grill, grill to blistery-charred perfection, & all that’s left is tossing it all together in the pesto & pasta! Seriously easy.
Summer Pesto Pasta Salad Assembly…
With the lemony chicken & veggies grilled & the pasta cooked to a perfect al dente, all that’s left is tossing it all together!
Add the grilled chicken, grilled veggies, pasta, & pesto to a large bowl (& mayyybe a handful of cheesy little mozzarella pearls), & toss, toss, toss!
Reminder – Not all jarred pestos are created equally! Finding a flavorful, high-quality jarred pesto is an absolute must for this summer pesto pasta salad. DeLallo Simply Pesto is truly the best I’ve had!
Quick tip: Whenever you’re working with jarred pesto, squeeze the littlest bit of lemon juice into the mix. The bright acidity of lemon wakes up the flavors of the pesto so it tastes totally bright & fresh.
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad – Tips, Tricks & FAQs:
What’s the best pasta for pesto sauce? What is the best pasta for pasta salad? I like using cavatappi in this summer pesto pasta salad. It’s corkscrew shape is not only fun for a pasta salad, it’s also great for chunkier sauces & pasta salads like this one since it captures the bits of grilled veggies & chicken. Plus, the pesto sauce clings to it really nicely. My other go-tos are rigatoni, shells, radiatori, & shellbows.
Do you let pasta cool before making pasta salad? It’s really up to you, but I say mix pasta salad while the pasta is still warm. Pasta salad sauce or dressing will more easily coat & adhere to warm pasta, creating a more unified pasta salad. When you drain the pasta, shake it well to remove excess water but whatever you do, don’t rinse it!
Can pesto pasta salad be eaten cold? Yes! This summer pesto pasta is great served warm, cold, or at room temperature.
How long does pasta salad last in the fridge? You can store leftover pesto pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leftovers keep very well & make for the perfect easy lunch or lazy dinner!
Make-ahead & meal prep: You can make this summer pesto pasta salad recipe in its entirety up to 5 days ahead of time, or you can partially prep its components in advance to make throwing together dinner during the week even quicker. Two easy meal prep options are detailed in the recipe card, below.
This PWWB Summer Pesto Pasta is my ideal summertime dinner. I can’t wait for you to try it! It’s light, bright, & totally fresh…basically a summer slam dunk.
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡Print
This Easy Summer Pesto Pasta Salad is loaded with lemony grilled chicken & summer vegetables & bright, lemony pesto flavor. Serve it warm, cold, or at room temperature, making it a perfect weeknight dinner recipe, meal prep lunch, or even a summer BBQ side dish – an all-purpose summer meal solution!
- 8 ounces DeLallo Cavatappi, or other short pasta of choice
- 2 tablespoons DeLallo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 lemons, zested, juiced & divided
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into 3–4 flat planks
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 1 pound chicken thighs or thinly pounded chicken breast
- 1 6.35-ounce jar DeLallo Simply Pesto
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Prepare the grill for medium-high direct heat grilling.
- Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the cavatappi and cook, stirring occasionally, to al dente according to package directions. Carefully drain & set aside.
- Prep the chicken & veggies: Meanwhile, as the pasta cooks, prep & grill the chicken & veggies. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, half of the lemon zest & juice, & garlic, seasoning with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss the bell pepper, zucchini, & cherry tomatoes through the marinade. Transfer to a large plate or small baking sheet, stringing the marinated cherry tomatoes on a skewer, & set aside. Add the chicken to the bowl tossing to coat in the remaining marinade.
- Grill the chicken & veggies: Place the chicken & veggies on the prepared grill. Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, or until fully cooked through. Grill the veggies for 3-4 minutes per side, or until tender & nicely charred. Remove from the grill & chop everything into bite-sized pieces.
- Assemble the pesto pasta salad: In a large bowl, combine the remaining lemon zest & juice with the pesto. Whisk to combine. Add the pasta, chicken, veggies & mozzarella pearls to the bowl. Toss to combine. Taste and season with additional salt or black pepper as needed. Enjoy!
- Serving: This summer pesto pasta is excellent served warm, at room temperature, or cold.
- Storage: Store leftover pesto pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leftovers keep very well & make for the perfect easy lunch or lazy dinner!
- Meal prep: You can make this summer pesto pasta salad recipe in its entirety ahead of time (serving, storage notes above), or you can partially prep its components in advance to make throwing together dinner during the week even quicker. 2 options:
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: Slice the red bell pepper & zucchini and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Prep the zesty marinade according to Step 3 of Recipe Directions. Store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. At dinnertime, cook the pasta, grill the chicken & veggies, & toss it all together with very little prep work involved.
- 20-Minute Meal Prep: Prep and grill the chicken & veggies according to Steps 3-4 of Recipe Directions. Chop & store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. At dinnertime simply cook the pasta & toss it all together – easy!
Keywords: Summer Pesto Pasta Salad, pasta recipe, main dish, side dish, easy, summer
Love this Summer Pesto Pasta? Here are a few more easy summer dinners you’ll love!
- Southwest Pasta Salad – Another easy pasta recipe that can double as a side dish or a main dish. Dairy-free & Vegan!
- Grilled Tuscan Steak – The easiest grilled steak dinner, filled with the garlicky, lemony flavors of Tuscany!
- Grilled Veggie Burrito Bowls – Another simple grilled dinner packed full of veggies & served with the BEST creamy green rice.
- Stuffed Southwest Turkey Burgers – Ooey-gooey turkey burgers stuffed with cheese & Southwest flavors. An easy, elevated turkey burger recipe!
- All PWWB Summer Recipes