CAESAR PESTO PASTA SALAD
I don't think there is anything better than a pasta salad with all the delicious mix-ins and covered in a creamy dressing.
Pesto and Caesar salad dressing create the creamy dressing for this pasta salad. The flavor that those two bring is so yummy and really makes this stand out from the rest.
This ranch pasta salad is also a favorite with it's homemade (easy!) ranch dressing.
HOW TO MAKE CREAMY PESTO PASTA SALAD
Tri-Color Rotini Pasta - This is the sprial pasta that comes in three different colors. It has lots more flavor than regular rotini pasta so I always use it in this salad. Plus it just looks pretty! You can substitute any pasta for it but make sure it's only the 12 oz that is called for in the recipe.
Basil Pesto - I always just buy a jar of this at Costco or you can also find it in the pasta/spaghetti sauce aisle of the grocery store. I think it tastes great from a jar so I never take the time to make it myself. But you can certainly do that if you want.
Caesar Salad Dressing - Be sure and use one that you love! I find that the best tasting salad dressings are the refrigerated ones in the produce section at the store. But any bottle of Caesar dressing will work just fine.
Salt & Garlic Powder
Chopped Tomatoes - I always take the seeds out of tomatoes when I use them in salad recipes. You can get some Roma tomatoes and cut those or use the small grape/cherry tomatoes and just cut them in half.
Pine Nuts - You can toast these for a deeper, richer flavor. I never do but if you wan to it certainly would taste amazing.
Chopped or Sliced Black Olives
Shredded Parmesan Cheese - I buy the bag of shredded Parmesan cheese or you can shred your own from a wedge. I have never tried using the grated Parmesan cheese in this recipe but I think it would be fine. It tends to be saltier so I would reduce the amount slightly if using.
MY TIPS FOR THIS RECIPE
- 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 PESTO RECIPES
- homemade basil pesto
- pesto marinated grilled chicken
- creamy chicken orzo pesto soup
- pesto cheese bombs
- baked pesto chicken
Caesar Pesto Pasta Salad
- 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.