Pesto Pasta Salad with Chicken

Freshly grilled chicken, savory black olives, a medley of colorful vegetables, and a delectable pesto sauce come together to create this delightful and satisfying Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad recipe! This versatile dish is ready in under 30 minutes, making it the perfect addition to any summer gathering.

Why You’ll Love This Pasta Salad

  • Quick and easy, ready in under half an hour.
  • Can be enjoyed as a side dish or as a hearty lunch option.
  • Makes for delicious leftovers.
  • Requires only 8 simple ingredients.
  • Can be served either cold or warm.
  • Easily customizable to suit your taste buds.
  • Perfect for potlucks, parties, and barbecues.

Ingredients Needed

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Tri-colored rotini pasta
  • Broccoli
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Pesto sauce
  • Black olives
  • Salt and pepper

How To Make Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. For the last 4 minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli to the pot. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Add the grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, black olives, pesto sauce, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Store the salad in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • Enhance the flavor and texture by adding sautéed spinach, kale, shredded carrots, onions, or mushrooms.
  • Feel free to make your own pesto sauce or use your favorite store-bought brand.
  • Experiment with different pasta choices, such as regular rotini, elbow macaroni, bowtie pasta, or penne.
  • For an extra indulgence, sprinkle some shredded cheese on top. Romano, parmesan, or even fresh milk mozzarella are excellent options.
  • Add a handful of seeds, such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds, for a subtle texture change.
  • If you’re not a fan of black olives, feel free to omit them or replace them with a different type of olive.
  • In a pinch, substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts with other chicken cuts, dark meat, or even rotisserie chicken. However, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are recommended for the best results.
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Leftover Storage

Any remaining pasta salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Please note that the pesto may cause the pasta noodles to become slightly soggy over time, but the incredible flavor will remain intact. In fact, the flavors tend to meld together even better after some time in the fridge.

Can I Freeze This Easy Pasta Salad Side Dish?

Absolutely! This recipe can easily be scaled up to make more servings. If you don’t plan on consuming it within a few days, freezing it for later is a great option.

Once the Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad has completely cooled down, transfer it to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 2 months.

What Other Pasta Options Can I Use?

If you prefer not to use tri-colored rotini, you can easily swap it out for other pasta choices. Here are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Regular rotini
  • Elbow macaroni
  • Bowtie pasta
  • Penne

Can I Add Nuts to This Recipe?

Certainly! Nuts are a common ingredient in pesto and can be a delightful addition to this pasta salad. Here are some of my favorite nuts to top off this easy recipe:

  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Almond slivers
  • Chopped pecans or walnuts
  • A handful of pistachios or peanuts

More Yummy Pasta Salad Recipes

  • Italian Pasta Salad
  • Creamy Curried Chicken Pasta Salad
  • Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
  • Chili Pasta Salad
  • Roasted Pepper Pasta Salad
  • Greek Pasta Salad
  • Bruschetta Chicken Pasta Salad
  • Pizza Pasta Salad
  • Jalapeno Ranch Pasta Salad
  • Ramen Noodle Salad

You’ll also love the refreshing combination of Watermelon and Feta Salad.

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What sides will you be including on your BBQ menu?

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