Pesto Pasta Salad

Green, orange and red: a colorful dinner in the backyard.

Pesto Pasta Salad

It was 106 degrees at my house, with a “real feel” temperature of 111. (Sometimes I just think that the real feel information adds insult to injury, don’t you?) Nobody was particularly hungry. Nobody wanted a hot meal for dinner. The Tiny Kitchen Assistant reached into the fridge and pulled out a container of pesto from the farmer’s market. “What about this?” he asked. “Can we work with this?”

Pesto pasta salad was born.


  • 1 lb dried pasta
  • Salt
  • Approximately 1 cup homemade or store-bought pesto*
  • Shredded carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Ice
  • Water
  • Parmesan cheese


Boil your pasta in salted water according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, grate 1-2 carrots on a box grater. This is mostly for color and a touch of added vegetable.

Wash, drain and halve cherry tomatoes. I used nearly a whole container, but you may not have a Tiny Kitchen Assistant who pops tomatoes like they’re M&Ms.

In a large bowl, mix a large cupful of ice with plenty of water.

Drain cooked pasta. Transfer to the bowl of ice water. Swish around with your hands until the pasta has chilled. Drain again.

Toss now-cooled pasta with pesto, then add carrots and tomatoes. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese or chill in the fridge until dinnertime.

Easy, flavorful and cool on a hot night.


“I like cold pasta, Mommy. It reminds me of that place in Hawaii that was much too hot, but the pesto pasta was nice and cool.” When he spotted the leftovers in the bowl, he cheered. “I can have this for school lunch on Monday. Yay!”

* Note: I would normally make my own pesto, but the Italian food stand at my farmer’s market makes phenomenal sauces. (Sun dried tomato pesto is to die for.) ┬áSince my basil hasn’t yet taken over the garden, I’ve been relying on them to help me meet my pesto needs.

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