This Pesto Caprese Macaroni summer pasta salad is jam-packed with the bold flavors of fresh, cheesy pesto. It can be made ahead for your next potluck dish, BBQ side, or meal side dish.
Everyone will be coming back for seconds. It’s summer which means it is time to head outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. This Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad is perfect for a picnic or barbecue. It has all your favorite flavors of pesto, tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil. You will love this recipe because it takes less than 15 minutes to make but tastes like you’ve been slaving over the stove all day long!
When the heat is on, salads are my go to meals. I love the versatility, and ease a pasta or leafy green salad encompasses. With minimal time, you can easily prepare one of my go to pasta salads that eats like a meal.
My kids, and husband love my pesto caprese macaroni salad because it is bold, and it contains cheese and garlic which provides delicious flavor for otherwise bland pasta.
You can use either regular elbow macaroni pasta or gluten-free pasta for this salad.
I don’t know about your family, but anything loaded with cheesy goodness, and flavored with garlic is a must around here! Even my newly turned 2-year-old can agree that mommy’s pesto caprese macaroni salad gets two messy thumbs up.
Use fresh basil & garlic
Garden-fresh garlic, and basil have such vibrant flavors that really make this dish POP. My husband is an avid gardener who takes his hobby seriously, but I don’t mind because it produces an abundance of herbs, and vegetables that allow me to be creative in the kitchen.
When I make my pesto sauce, I like to store it in a mason jar because it keeps it fresh for up to a week. Just make sure the jar is sealed properly and stored in the refrigerator.
Pesto is such a go to for us in the summer. I find myself smearing it on french bread, putting it on grilled pizza, in leafy green salads, and on chicken. I usually make a double batch so that I have plenty to use throughout the week.
- Basil – 2 cups (fresh is best)
- Parmesan or Pecorino cheese – 3/4 cup
- Garlic – 2 cloves
- Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
- Extra virgin olive oil – 2/3 cup
- Fresh kosher salt & pepper – to taste
Pasta & Add-ins
- Elbow macaroni – 1 pound
- Cherry tomatoes – 1 pint, halved or whole
- Mozzarella Pearls – one cup
This dish tastes best chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours. By chilling the pesto caprese macaroni salad, you allow the pasta and cheese to soak up all the bold flavors of the garlic, Parmesan, and fresh basil leaves.
More Summer salads
Pesto Caprese Macaroni Salad
- 6-quart stock pot
- food processor
- cutting board
- 2 cups Basil fresh, leaves only
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese Can use pecorino too
- 2 cloves Garlic fresh
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice fresh
- ⅔ cup Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 pound box Elbow Macaroni cooked al dente, and rinsed
- 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 cup mozzarella pearls or 8 ounces of ball-style chopped up
- Boil macaroni elbows until al dente in a pot of salted water. I use one teaspoon of salt per pound. Once done, strain liquid in a collander over the sink. Rinse pasta with cold water, and strain again until all liquid is removed. Transfer pasta into a large micing bowl.
- In a food processor, blend cheese, salt, pepper, oil, garlic, and basil until pureed; place in the fridge until ready to mix.
- Add your cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and pesto mixture into the strained pasta. Mix well to combine.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. This dish tastes best chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours. By chilling the pesto caprese macaroni salad, you allow the pasta and cheese to soak up all the bold flavors of the garlic, parmesan, and fresh basil leaves.