Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 7

Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

Summer BBQs are right around the corner and you always need to bring something. This time you can skip the deli pasta salad and show up with this easy side dish that is full of flavor and contains no mayonnaise. This easy Italian pepperoni pesto pasta salad is full of fresh veggies, zesty flavors, and a simple pesto sauce. It is a great recipe for cookouts, picnics, weeknight sides, or even a potluck lunch. No matter how you decide to serve this American staple, it will definitely become one of your favorite pasta salad recipes! Full recipe card below.

Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 10

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What is Pasta Salad

Classic pasta salad is usually a cold side dish made with short cooked pasta noodles, a dressing, fresh vegetables, and sometimes fresh herbs and cheese. Pasta salad is a common summer BBQ side dish because it can be made in a big batch, it is full of yummy ingredients and you can also find pre-made versions in the deli section at your local grocery store.

Why I Love This Recipe

This is my favorite thing to make for summer cookouts because it is easy, affordable, and can be filled with all your favorite fresh ingredients. Even though this is a pasta dish, it doesn’t feel heavy and it can easily feed a large crowd. Because it contains very little dairy, it’s the perfect side dish for picnics without refrigeration.

Easy Italian Pasta Salad Ingredients

Pasta salad can be made with a variety of different ingredients. I used a mix of pantry items and fresh ingredients which makes this an easy recipe. I will break down what I use and why and what ingredients will give you the best results or can be substituted.

Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe www.GarrisonStreetEats.com

Pasta Noodles – While the type of pasta you choose is up to you, some pasta noodles yield better results. Most pasta salad is made with a short noodle with a lot of crevices to gather the flavors of the dressing and toppings. I used farfalle which is more commonly known as bowtie pasta. I chose this because I think it looks prettier than the usual suspects like rotini pasta and fusilli pasta yet still gathers plenty of flavor. You could also use penne, macaroni, orzo, cavatappi pasta, or any spiral pasta you want.

Pesto Sauce – I have been using this pesto sauce mix for years. It is quick and easy and much more affordable than making homemade pesto with the cost of pine nuts. This is also a lighter sauce than many of the pre-packaged options since it is mixed with just oil and water but it still has a ton of flavor! You can find it in the grocery store with packaged seasoning mixes like gravy and chili packets. You can also make your own pesto or buy a jar of pesto if you prefer.

Red Onion – Onions can add a ton of flavor to a dish and I put onions in almost everything! For this recipe I used red onions since they do not get cooked in this dish and red onions are the best onion variety to use raw.

Bell Peppers – I use a red bell pepper for both color and flavor. Red peppers add a level of sweetness that offsets the pesto and onion quite well. You could also use a green bell pepper but the flavor will be different and not as sweet.

Grape Tomatoes – Fresh tomatoes give this pasta salad some acidity. I used small grape tomatoes and quartered them because of their convenient size, but you can also use cherry tomatoes. Smaller tomatoes like these are denser and contain less seeds and guts. Roma tomatoes would also work in this dish. Just make sure you remove the insides before adding them to the pasta salad to avoid making it overly acidic and runny. You can also use sun-dried tomatoes if you would like.

Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 8

Fresh Basil  Basil is a key ingredient to developing the flavor in this pasta salad and fresh basil will have a much greater impact and deeper flavor than dried basil. While you can use dried basil, I highly recommend using fresh basil here. It adds an element of freshness and you will get the best flavor with fresh.

Pepperoni  You can definitely make this meatless if you want, but pepperoni adds a zesty flavor common in a classic Italian pasta salad. I used a package of mini pepperoni rounds here but you can also use full size and quarter them. The smaller size incorporates better to ensure more uniform bites. You can also use turkey pepperoni if you want, but I can’t find the minis in turkey.

Parmesan Cheese – I personally am a fan of real parmesan cheese and not the fake stuff in a jar. I don’t think they taste anything alike and real parmesan adds a rich salty bite like no other. You can also use bagged parmesan cheese as well.

Extra Toppings – Feel free to add additional fresh vegetables or black olives if you like.

How to Mix Pasta Salad

I think the best way to mix pasta salad is to use a large bowl with a lid and dump everything in except the tomatoes. Then I put the lid on and shake it until everything is combined. No extra dishes required! If you don’t have a large bowl with a lid you can use a plate as the lid or just simply stir the ingredients until mixed. I add the tomatoes last so they don’t get crushed and make the salad runny with tomato juice.

Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 6

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Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

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  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 57 minutes
  • Yield: 8-12 servings 1x


Looking for a cold pasta salad recipe that isn’t macaroni salad and doesn’t use mayo? Try this zesty Italian pasta salad recipe with pesto sauce and pepperoni! It’s easy to make and full of flavor and fresh vegetables. Classic Italian flavors fill this summer salad side dish making it the perfect recipe for your next summer cookout, potluck, or BBQ. No matter when you make it, this pepperoni pasta salad recipe is always a crowd pleaser that will keep you coming back for more!


Units Scale

16 oz Farfalle Pasta (Bowtie)

1 pkg Pesto Sauce Mix

1/2 Red Onion diced

1 Red Bell Pepper diced

1/2 cup Grape Tomatoes quartered

2 tbsp Fresh Basil chopped

1 pkg Mini Pepperoni

2 tbsp Butter

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Olive Oil

Lemon for garnish


  1. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil.
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, dice the red onion, red pepper, tomatoes, and basil and set aside. To speed up chopping I use this slicer.
  3. Once the water is boiling add a pound of bowtie pasta and salt the water. Cook for 11-12 minutes or until al dente.
  4. While the pasta cooks, make the pesto sauce according to the package directions.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked drain the water and add the pasta to a large bowl. Add butter and a small drizzle of olive oil while the noodles are still hot and stir into the pasta. The noodles will soak this up and help keep them from becoming sticky.
  6. After the pesto sauce is made, pour onto the pasta noodles.
  7. Add the chopped veggies, pepperonis, and half the basil. Combine with the pasta and pesto sauce until coated.
  8. Add the tomatoes last and gently stir them in to keep them from being mashed.
  9. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
  10. Add cheese and remaining basil once the pasta salad has been cooled.
  11. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


For best results allow at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cool Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 12
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American, Italian

Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 7


Leftover pesto pasta salad should be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. The longer the pasta salad sits the drier it becomes because the pesto soaks into the noodles and the veggies will start to get soggy. To liven it up the next day, drizzle a very small amount of olive oil on top and stir it before serving leftovers.

When to Make Pasta Salad

This easy pasta salad recipe is a great addition as a side dish for your next BBQ, picnic, cookout, or potluck. You can even make it as a lunchtime main dish. You can add your favorite veggies and toppings, pleasing even your picky eaters. No matter when you decide to make it, I am confident you will love it!

Looking for more delicious summer favorites? Try my homemade guacamole, slow cooker baked beans, patriotic fruit pizza, smash burgers, easy veggie pizza, or homemade coleslaw.

Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 3

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This post, Easy Italian Pepperoni Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe, appeared first on Garrison Street Eats.

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