This Easy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad can be made in minutes and will work for a main meal or a side dish at your next BBQ or potluck!
Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
More salad than pasta – or a salad pasta? No, we will stick with calling it a pasta salad. More specifically, a Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad.
How to make Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad
This chicken pasta salad can be a side dish or a main meal – Chicken and mozzarella make it hearty and filling, sun dried tomatoes add a tangy twist, peppery arugula punches up the flavor and freshness. And the “dressing” is really just pesto – which is basically summer in a jar. I added a little red wine vinegar to balance the flavors and some Parmesan cheese because when is adding Parmesan cheese a bad idea?
What I love about this pesto pasta salad is it is so incredibly easy. Other than boiling the pasta, you don’t have to cook anything. I used store bought pesto here, but my Easy Homemade Pesto would be amazing if you want to make your own pesto. I also used rotisserie chicken to make prep work easy. Really you just need to throw the ingredients in a bowl, toss, and you are done. Pasta salad is actually better if you make it ahead of time so the flavors can meld.
Cold Pesto Pasta Salad is a perfect summer dinner
This easy Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad is just as good for a main meal as it is for a side dish at a BBQ or potluck. It’s the perfect dinner for hot weather. Not only does it require very little cooking – just boiling the pasta – but it is also served cold. It is a fresh and flavorful dinner to cool you down on a hot summer evening.
Tips for making the best pasta salad
- Be sure your pasta is cooled before adding it to the other ingredients. Otherwise it may become gummy because it will soak up the sauce. The best way to do this is to use an ice bath. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Drain you pasta into a colander. Then plunge the colander into the ice bath. Remove and allow water to drain.
- Salt to taste! The only way to know if you have the right amount of salt is to taste the pasta salad. After mixing the ingredients, taste and add salt and pepper until you have the flavor you want.
- Chill pasta salad for a few hours before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld.
- Keep in mind the arugula will wilt a bit in the salad. If you don’t want that, you can reserve the arugula and add it closer to serving time.
- 8 oz pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken shredded
- 8.5 ounces sundried tomatoes in oil
- 8 ounces Mozzarella Ciliegine "cherry sized" fresh mozzarella balls
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 3/4 cup pesto
- 2 tbsp Red wine vinegar
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Bring salted pot of water to boil, cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Prepare an ice bath (a large bowl of cold water and ice). After draining the pasta, plunge the strainer into the bowl of ice water to immediately cool it, then drain and set aside.
- Stir together pesto and red wine vinegar, set aside.
- Add cooled pasta, sun dried tomatoes including oil from jar, arugula, chicken, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, pesto mixture to bowl. Gently toss until fully mixed. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Can be served right away but the flavors will develop and be better if the pasta salad is allowed to chill for a few hours. Chill in the fridge for 4 hours or up to overnight.