You’re planning a get together with friends, and there was a last minute decision to throw together a cook out the next afternoon. Your friend (or sister, if this is real life) asks you to bring a pasta salad or potato salad. It’s already 5 PM the night before, so you need a quick and easy recipe. And obviously healthy, too, because you only bring healthy side dishes to the cook outs you attend. What are you going to do?!
I can tell you what you are NOT going to do. You will not ever buy one of those boxed Suddenly Salad pasta dishes. I forbid it. Why? Because they really aren’t that good (I’ve never had one that was amazing), and you have to buy a ton of other stuff to add into them anyways. Plus, you should bring something that makes you look like a real chef in the kitchen.
The solution? This peas and shells pesto pasta salad!
Okay, okay… I know what you’re thinking. ‘I don’t have the time, or the knowledge, to make my own pesto!’
Pesto is actually super easy to make. Although I haven’t published a traditional basil pesto on the blog, I’ve made it before. I do have a yummy asparagus pesto that would be a great substitute if you had a little extra time!
If you DON’T have the time, I have a secret ingredient for your pesto pasta salad that will make your homemade salad look totally legit.
You can find this Classico Traditonal Basil Pesto at your local grocery near the pasta sauce. This is no sponsored post – we have been buying Classico pesto here and there for years. My mom used to purchase it for spaghetti recipes back in the day, and Kyle has been a big fan of it, too!
Pasta shells and peas are also family favorites for pasta salads. See how those peas hide in the shells so perfectly? We’re weirdos and think it makes the pasta salad so much more fun. Barkley thinks so, too!
I’m not normally in the habit of teasing my dogs with food while I photograph, but it’s been so gorgeous out we’ve had our patio doors open the last week or so. At least I took these pics close to his dinner time so he didn’t have to drool for too long…
The one thing I recommend about pasta salads is letting them sit in the fridge overnight, if you get the chance. It gives time for the flavors to meld together. This salad tasted much better the next day!
Peas and Shells Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 16 oz box small pasta shells
- 3/4 jar of Classico traditional basil pesto
- 1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup frozen peas (more or less depending on preference)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta, and cook 8-10 minutes until done.
- Drain pasta, and add to large mixing bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons of EVOO. Let cool for 1 hour.
- While pasta is cooking, place frozen peas in a strainer and run cool water over to thaw. Set aside on counter.
- Once pasta is cooled, add pesto and mix completely. Then add in remaining ingredients. You can add more or less cheese and peas depending on preference.
- Let sit in fridge overnight, if possible!
Pasta salads, or any cold summer salad, are some of my favorite recipes! I plan to come up with some good ones this spring to get ramped up for summer. In the mean time, check out some of these other healthy pasta recipes!