Caesar pesto pasta salad will be a hit at your next bbq, picnic, or dinner! Tender spiral pasta covered in a creamy Caesar pesto dressing, chopped tomatoes, olives, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. So simple, easy to make and crazy delicious.
I am a sucker for good pasta salad recipes. I can usually make a meal out of a pasta salad! Like I happened to do with this Caesar pesto pasta salad.
I made it in the morning and seriously could not get enough of it. I ended up eating it for breakfast, snack, and then lunch. And when my 6 year old came home for school she finished it off for her after school snack 🙂
I always tend to gravitate towards the salads, side dishes, and pasta salads at a picnic, BBQ, or potluck. I love all the different varieties that people bring.
This Caesar pesto pasta salad just may be my very favorite. And that’s saying a lot because this ranch pasta salad has long been my favorite for years and years.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST PASTA SALAD
Tri color spiral pasta is the base of this salad. Cook that according to the package directions. Mix up a creamy dressing of pesto and Caesar salad dressing and pour that over the hot pasta.
Now if you’re anything like me you’ll be tempted to just stop here and eat those warm noodles coated in the sauce….. it’s good, just try one!
But, add in chopped tomatoes, green onion, pine nuts, olives, and cheese and you basically have the best pasta salad of your life.
So simple, easy ingredients, and takes just minutes to make. Serve it right away or let it get cold in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving. I ate it both ways and I can honestly say I did not prefer one to the other.
TIPS FOR MAKING PASTA SALAD
- If you can and want to, spend a few extra minutes and toast the pine nuts. I just put mine in a skillet pan over medium heat for several minutes. Stir often and keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn. I have also made this salad without toasting the pine nuts and it’s still delicious. So don’t worry if you choose not to toast the pine nuts.
- Use a Caesar salad dressing that you LOVE. I always use Ken’s Steakhouse Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing or the refrigerated kind that you buy in the produce department. You can use regular, full-fat or the light variety. I have tried out both and I have to say that I prefer the taste of the regular, full-fat dressing.
- Salt your pasta water so the noodles taste like something!
- Put the salad in the fridge for 1-2 hours if you want to serve it cold (or if you just don’t need to serve it right away). Or you can serve the pasta salad right away. Either way is so delicious. The leftovers are fabulous too straight from the fridge!
TRY THESE OTHER PASTA SALAD RECIPES
- 1 box (12 oz) tri color rotini pasta
- 2/3 cup creamy caesar dressing
- 1/3 cup basil pesto
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 can (3.8 oz) black olives, drained and chopped
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
- 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not forget to salt the pasta water. I use about 1 teaspoon when I salt pasta water. Drain pasta (DO NOT rinse).
In a mixing bowl combine the caesar dressing, basil pesto, salt, and garlic powder. Stir together. Add the cooked, drained hot pasta into it and stir until all the noodles are coated well.
Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir to combine everything together.
You can either serve this salad right away while it's still slightly warm or put it in the fridge for 1-2 hours before serving. If it seems dry after refrigerating, simply add a bit more Caesar dressing to your liking.
If you want to and have the time, try toasting the pine nuts before adding them into the salad. Toasting the pine nuts adds a whole new flavor and it's really good. I just put the pine nuts into small sauté pan and let it cook over medium heat for several minutes. Stirring often to make sure they don't burn.
If you can't find the 3.8 oz black olive sized can at your grocery store you can get two of the small (2.25 oz) cans. All of the ingredients can be increased or decreased based on your liking.
I use the parmesan cheese that you buy pre shredded in the bags. You could also shred your own from a wedge. I would suggest not using the finely grated parmesan cheese that you get in the can. You know the cheaper dried parmesan cheese.
Also, make sure and use a Caesar dressing that you love because that flavor really shines through. I love using Ken's Steakhouse Caesar dressing.
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