Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Parmesan

Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Parmesan

Pesto Pasta 6

Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Parmesan. Try saying that three times fast. Or not. Tongue twisters aside, this is a super easy and super tasty summer pasta salad that is always a hit at any gathering. The pesto gets the addition of a few different flavors to elevate it above your traditional pesto, and the peas and tomatoes add some sweetness to a great side dish that tastes like summer. So let’s get to it!   


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Here’s our lineup of ingredients. For pasta salads, I always use real mayonnaise and my favorite by a country mile is Best Foods. Depending on what part of the world you hail from, you might know it as Hellman’s – same mayo, same logo, just a different name.

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, drain, then toss with olive oil and let cool.

While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes on medium high, because they taste better toasted.

Load up all the ingredients for the pesto in a food processor and pulse to puree. Contrary to when making regular pesto, we aren’t going to add nearly as much olive oil. Two tablespoons are just enough to get everything mixed together. Later, when we add the mayonnaise, we’ll end up with the perfect pasta salad. 

Here’s what the pesto looks like when it’s done. I know, you’re probably saying that it looks too dry, better add some more olive oil. Don’t do it.

Add all the stuff to the pasta, mix well and chill for a couple of hours.

Side Note: Parmesan is not Parmigiano Reggiano. American parmesan is an entirely different cheese. A little sweeter and creamier, and nowhere near as expensive, parmesan is not the right cheese for any pesto recipe. Always use the real deal for pesto.

Garnish with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a few pine nuts and it’s time to dig in. Enjoy!

Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Parmesan

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5 from 2 votes

Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Parmesan

How to make pesto pasta salad with peas and Parmesan. A light, fresh and tasty pasta salad that goes great with any summer meal.  
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: pesto pasta salad
Servings: 8


  • 12 ounces tri-color rotini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves packed
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves packed
  • 1/2 cup spinach leaves packed
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise


  • Cook pasta to al dente in salted water according to the package directions. Drain and place in large mixing bowl. Toss with olive oil and let cool.
  • Toast pine nuts in dry sauté pan.
  • Add basil, parsley, spinach, Parmigiano Reggiano , pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice to food processor. Pulse to puree. Add olive oil and pulse again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Combine pasta, pesto, tomatoes, peas and mayonnaise. Mix well.
  • Garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano and pine nuts. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

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