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Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

This pesto pasta salad recipe may take some extra effort, but it’ll be worth it. It’s rich, buttery, savory, and slightly smoky— simply amazing.
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time17 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Healthy Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe, Pesto Pasta Salad, Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 241kcal
Author: Luna Regina


  • 0.4 oz cashew nuts raw
  • 0.4 oz spinach fresh, leaves only
  • 0.7 oz fresh basil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt divided
  • 2 tsp garlic divided, minced
  • 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese divided
  • 3 oz dry rotini pasta
  • 3.5 oz raw shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp thyme fresh
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 0.5 oz onions diced
  • 2 oz cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1.2 oz red bell peppers diced
  • 1.2 oz black olives pitted, sliced


  • Roast the cashew nuts: in a dry skillet, add cashews and cook on medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • Blanch the spinach: bring a pot of water to a boil. Add spinach and blanch for 1 minute. Remove spinach from the pot. Rinse under running water until no longer hot. Drain and squeeze well to extract all the water out. Set aside.
  • Make pesto sauce: in the bowl of a food processor, combine spinach, basil, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, and cashew nuts. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Cook the pasta: bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions (ours took 8 minutes.) Drain and set aside.
  • Season and sear the shrimp: in a skillet, heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil and unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, thyme, 1/8 tsp salt, and onion. Sear the shrimp for 2 minutes per side. Once the shrimp turn pink around the edges, flip, add 1 tsp minced garlic, and cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat and transfer to a plate once cooked through.
  • Mix the salad: in a large mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, pasta, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, canned olives, and pesto sauce. Mix well to coat the sauce evenly.
  • Serve: transfer the salad to a serving platter. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese on top and serve.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 313mg | Potassium: 219mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1043IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg