Pesto Pasta Salad is filled with fresh mozzarella pearls, tomatoes, grilled chicken, pasta, and pesto sauce. This easy and delicious dish is great for meal prepping for busy nights or work days.
Pesto Pasta Salad is a recipe I frequently meal prep. This one is particularly great because it doesn’t require reheating which can be a waste of precious time and often isn’t as great as fresh. If you’re looking for more recipes that are great for meal prepping, try my Mini Meatloaf, Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach & Tomatoes, and Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry.
Meal Prep Pesto Pasta Salad
This salad is so good! Who doesn’t love a pasta dish dressed in pesto?! It’s filled with lean protein, fresh tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. This is sure to make it to your list of favorites!
Ingredients for Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad:
- Chicken– Boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenders. This lean cut of meat adds a lot of protein to the dish.
- Pasta– I like to use whole wheat pasta but any kind of short pasta works great.
- Pesto– My favorite pesto is Kirkland Pesto from Costco. You can also make your own homemade pesto.
- Grape Tomatoes– These tomatoes are sweet and stay intact when tossed in a salad.
- Mozzarella Pearls– You can find these next to all the fancy cheeses near the deli. They’re so flavorful and semi-soft.
- Parmesan Cheese– I recommend using fresh grated parmigiano reggiano for the best flavor.
How to make Pesto Pasta Salad:
Time needed: 1 minute.
- Cook Chicken
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook on the grill, smoker, or in a pan over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes per side until 165 degrees F. Remove and set aside on a plate to cool.
- Cook Pasta
Cook pasta in boiling water according to package until al dente. Drain and then place in a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again and then place noodles back in empty bowl.
Slice up cooked chicken and add it to the pasta along with the tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and pesto. Toss until combined and evenly coated in the sauce. Garnish with parmesan and add salt and pepper to taste.
Pasta salad tastes better after resting for a bit so the flavors can come together. Once mixed, let it sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Salad will taste even better the next day.
Pasta salad should be eaten within 4 days.
Pasta should only be rinsed after cooking if using in a pasta salad or stir-frying it. Why? Rinsing in cold water stops the cooking process and removes the starchy coating that would otherwise make the pasta gummy and stick together. If pasta will be served hot with a sauce do NOT rinse it. The starchy film is needed to help the sauce sling to the pasta.
TOOLS USED TO MAKE THIS PASTA SALAD:
- Pyrex Mixing Bowls with Lids- I love my mixing bowls with lids because then I am able to stack things up with the fridge. Plus, glass is nice for when I need to microwave whatever is in it.
- Meal Prep Containers– I’ve been using these meal prep containers for almost 2 years now and they are amazing! They are leak proof, easy to open, and can go in the microwave and dishwasher.
- Cast Iron Skillet– A cast iron skillet is a kitchen must have. It heats evenly and gives meats a nice crust.
LOOKING FOR MORE PASTA SALADS? CHECK OUT THESE:
- BLT Tortellini Salad
- Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
- Chicken Pasta Salad with Spinach & Tomatoes
- Rainbow Italian Tortellini Pasta Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 pound chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 8 ounces whole wheat pasta
- 1/2 cup pesto sauce
- 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced (about 8 ounces)
- 4 ounces mozzarella pearls
- salt & pepper to taste, to taste
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook on the grill or in a pan over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes per side until 165 degrees F. Remove and set aside on a plate to cool.
- Cook pasta in boiling water according to package until al dente. Drain and then place in a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again and then place noodles back in empty bowl.
- Slice up cooked chicken and add it to the pasta along with the tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and pesto. Toss until combined and evenly coated in the sauce. Garnish with parmesan and add salt and pepper to taste.