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Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

This pesto pasta salad recipe may take some extra effort, but it’s well 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 leaves
  • 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 0.4 oz cashew nuts 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 0.4 oz spinach and blanch for 1 minute. Remove spinach from the pot. Rinse under cold running water until no longer hot. Drain and squeeze well to remove any excess moisture. Set aside.
  • Make pesto sauce: in the bowl of a food processor, combine spinach, 0.7 oz fresh basil leaves, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/8 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, and cashew nuts. Blend until almost smooth. Set aside.
  • Cook the pasta: bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 3 oz dry rotini 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 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add 3.5 oz raw shrimp, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp thyme, and 0.5 oz onions. 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, 2 oz cherry tomatoes, 1.2 oz red bell peppers, canned 1.2 oz black olives, and pesto sauce. Mix well to evenly coat everything with the sauce.
  • 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