Berry Pesto Pasta Salad is the perfect side dish for all your summer celebrations! Strawberries, blackberries, arugula and mini mozzarella balls and pasta are all tossed together with an easy pesto dressing. Simple, delicious and sure to be a hit!
Thanks to my friends at Delallo Foods for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.
It’s almost that time of year where backyard barbecues and get togethers with friends and family are part of our weekend plans. There’s nothing I love more than being outside on a warm day playing games, talking and enjoying a meal with others.
Speaking of enjoying a meal, something grilled is usually our main dish of choice. Sometimes it’s as simple as these Greek lemon chicken skewers with tzatziki sauce, a good old fashioned hamburger or this chipotle maple grilled salmon.
Whatever we end up grilling, there needs to be a couple side dishes to serve along with it. This Berry Pesto Pasta Salad will be a wonderful side dish to serve or bring to all of your barbecues and get togethers this summer!
Ingredients For Berry Pesto Pasta Salad
- Pasta – I used Delallo Shellbow Pasta. It’s a cross between shells and elbow (macaroni) pasta. It’s similar in size to the mozzarella balls and berries used in the pasta salad and works beautifully at capturing the pesto dressing.
- Baby arugula – It’s peppery and a delightful contrast with the sweet berries and creamy mozzarella balls.
- Strawberries – Sweet, slightly floral and a wonderful pairing with pesto. Strawberries and fresh basil are a classic combination, so it was no surprise that they would be equally delicious with pesto.
- Blackberries – Sweet and juicy. I love the pops of blackberry juice combined with the saltiness from the pesto and creaminess of the mozzarella balls.
- Delallo Simply Pesto Traditional Basil – If you’ve never used Delallo’s basil pesto, you’re in for a treat. They’re pesto is made with simple ingredients that pack in a ton of flavor. Handpicked Ligurian basil, pine nuts, cashews, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and olive oil. It’s the key ingredient that gives this pesto pasta salad all of it’s flavor.
- Champagne vinegar (see alternatives below) – Champagne vinegar is combined with the Delallo pesto to give the dressing some acidity.
- Honey or maple syrup – Either maple syrup or honey will add a little sweetness to the pesto dressing. The sweetener is an optional ingredient, so taste it before adding to decide if you want the touch of sweetness added to the dressing.
- Mini fresh mozzarella balls – These mini mozzarella balls are also called ciliengine or pearls. There are multiple sizes that you can buy, but this size was perfect for the pasta salad. If you can’t find them, just buy the larger mozzarella balls or single ball of fresh mozzarella. Then chop it into bite sized pieces before adding it to the salad.
- Balsamic glaze – Another optional ingredient, but I highly recommend drizzling it over the top of the salad before serve. It adds a wonderfully sweet, rich, balsamic flavor that’s a perfect pairing with the berries and pesto.
How to Make Berry Pesto Pasta Salad
This is and incredibly easy pasta salad to make. And since we’re using Delallo’s basil pesto we’ll be saving a lot of prep time.
Start by cooking the pasta. Drain it and either let it cool to room temperature or rinse it under cold water. I don’t normally suggest rinsing pasta, but if you’re in a hurry and since this is a cold pasta salad, it won’t be a big deal.
Once the pasta is cool, add in the chopped strawberries, blackberries and mozzarella balls and arugula. In a small bowl whisk together the pesto, champagne vinegar, and maple syrup or honey.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss everything together. Taste the pasta salad to see if it needs salt, pepper or more pesto. Just before serving drizzle the balsamic glaze over the top of the salad.
- Berries – The berries you choose to use in this salad are up to you. In my opinion, strawberries and blackberries are the best combination. If you don’t like one of these berries or they don’t look fresh at the store, try substituting one with blueberries or raspberries. Be careful with raspberries as they are super delicate and may fall apart when you combine the dressing into the salad. You can also just use all strawberries or all blackberries.
- Champagne Vinegar – If you can’t find or don’t want to buy champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, white balsamic or rice vinegar are good substitutions. You can use regular balsamic vinegar, but it will make your pasta salad darker, almost brownish in color.
- Pasta – Any short pasta will work for this recipe. Shells, elbows, or cavatappi. You can also use whole wheat pasta or gluten-free pasta.
- Balsamic Glaze – You can buy balsamic glaze at most grocery stores these days, but if you can’t find it you can make your own like I did for these Turkey Bruschetta Burgers. You can also use a high quality aged balsamic vinegar. Look for one that is thick, syrupy and aged at least 25 years.
What to Serve with Berry Pesto Pasta Salad
- Caprese Balsamic Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Pesto Chicken Skewers
- Grilled Caprese Pizza
- Grilled Shrimp with Romesco Sauce
- Sheet Pan Parmesan Crusted Chicken and Broccoli
- 12 ounces Delallo Shellbow Pasta
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 1 cup diced strawberries
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1/2 cup mini fresh mozzarella balls
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- [ 3 - 4 tablespoons Delallo Simply Pesto Traditional Basil ]
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- Balsamic glaze to drizzle on top of the salad (optional, but recommended)
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and cool the pasta to room temperature or rinse under cold water if you are in a hurry. Add to a large serving bowl.
- Add the arugula, basil, strawberries, blackberries and mini mozzarella balls to the pasta.
- In a small bowl whisk together the pesto, vinegar, and honey then pour it onto the pasta salad. Stir everything together until it’s coated in the pesto dressing.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. If the salad looks dry, add an extra tablespoon of pesto. Just before serving top the pasta salad with balsamic glaze.
The pasta salad is best served the day it is made to prevent the berries from getting soft and the arugula from wilting.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 310Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 177mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 14g