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Pasta salad in a brown bowl with two serving spoons tucked into the side.

Kale & Basil Pesto Pasta Salad

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Inactive Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 as a main dish 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: American


This easy, summery pasta salad features classic caprese flavors and a homemade pesto!



For the Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup shelled walnut pieces
  • 2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 packed cup fresh kale leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (you might not use it all)

For the pasta salad:

  • 1 pound pasta (we used fusilli)
  • 2 heaping cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls, drained
  • 2 ounces prosciutto (about 4-5 large slices)
  • salt to taste





  1. When you’re ready to serve, add quartered cherry tomatoes to pasta salad and toss to combine. Use your hands to crumble the crispy prosciutto across the pasta salad. Taste and add salt if necessary (the prosciutto is very salty - you likely won’t need any extra salt!) Serve immediately.


If your pasta salad is dry after assembly, toss it with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Substitutions. This recipe is very forgiving - adapt it to use what you have on hand! The fresh kale adds a bit of bitterness to this pesto: for a mellower sauce, swap extra basil for some or all of the kale. You can also blanch and drain the kale before making the pesto if you like, but we find you don’t really need to add that extra step. Omit the parmesan cheese in the pesto if you like. Use pine nuts in place of walnuts, or leave the nuts out entirely.

Additions. Add grilled corn, roasted veggies (sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini), chickpeas, sliced olives, or any other pasta salad veggies you love! 

To make this vegetarian, omit the crispy prosciutto and be sure to use a parmesan cheese made without rennet. 

To make this vegan, omit the parmesan, mozzarella, and prosciutto. You can add chickpeas or grilled corn in place of the mozzarella pearls if you like!

Keywords: potluck, cookout, summer