Cold Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad (Fresh Pistachio Pesto)

Cold Pesto Pasta Salad with Sun-dried tomatoes

During high school one of my jobs was working the register at a tiny pasta restaurant in Scottsdale, AZ called Fasta Pasta. It sadly is no longer there, but was really ahead of its time serving fresh made to order pasta dishes with high quality ingredients in fun Chinese food to go containers. I loved the concept, and the food was exceptional. I’m glad I was paying attention, because I can still remember the menu and it still inspires me fifteen years later in my own kitchen–yikes that made me feel old.

Every morning the owner would make about eight beautiful fresh cold pasta salads to display in hand made pottery bowls in the front counter fridge area. They were perfect for a quick lunch, and not your typical “fast food”. Sometimes I was able to help prep the cold salads and I still remember the combination of ingredients to some of them including this cold pesto one. The combination of using pesto and ranch dressing is what I remember most along with the sauteed garlic mushrooms. At the restaurant he used penne pasta and also big pieces of grilled chicken.

This past weekend we hosted a small dinner party and I wanted to use up some tomatoes from my garden. (I’m really excited to have my first tomatoes this summer!)

my tomatoes

We’re still enjoying basil from the herb garden too!


I wanted to make fresh pesto with my new fancy blender, but didn’t have pine nuts so I used pistachios instead. It turned out great!

Note: Of course you could use store bought pesto, I have many times and like the jar of pesto from Costco.

Pistachio Pesto Recipe

Pistachio Pesto Recipe by Lina Darnell

  • Blend 1 cup of shelled pistachio nuts first (in a high powered blender or food processor)
  • Then add and blend 2 cups fresh basil, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup Olive Oil, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cold Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe by Lina Darnell


  • box of pasta of your choice (I like bow tie or penne)
  • 1 cup of pesto, either homemade or store bought
  • 1/2 cup of ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of fresh tomatoes
  • 1 – 8oz. package of fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon butter


1. Cook your pasta and set aside.

2. Saute your mushrooms on the stove with the butter and garlic for around 4 minutes until cooked.

3. Mix the ranch dressing and pesto together.

4. In a large bowl mix pasta, dressing, mushrooms, fresh and sun-dried tomatoes together and chill for at least an hour or two. It gets better as it chills more.

Homemade Pesto Cold Pasta Salad Recipe

This is a dish you can be proud to serve at your summer parties and it makes a lot so I’ve been eating it for lunch this week! I’m already so addicted to using my garden ingredients….

Pesto Pasta Salad with Ranch & Pesto

Thanks for stopping by to see me and my pasta salad today!

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7 thoughts on “Cold Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad (Fresh Pistachio Pesto)

  1. Looks fabulous and very summer friendly. I love pesto and have tons of basil right now. I’ll have to try it it’s going in the 90’s for over a week in a row. Will need something cool. Thanks

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  3. Hi!
    Do you think I could replace the ranch dressing with some olive oil and vinegar? If so how much would you reccomend?

    • Hi! Hmm I think it’d still be good, but remember the pesto is oily so I’d mix some vinegar/oil together and add a tablespoon at a time til you think its good. Thanks! Lina

  4. This looks delicious! What kind of sun dried tomatoes did you use? At my store, there is the dried kind in the bag by the produce or the kind in a jar with seasoned oil. The ones in the jars seem to be a lot more flavorful,but oily. The bagged ones don’t seem to have as much flavor, though. Which would you recommend?

    • I love both. These were some kind of dried ones that had a seasoning on them. Not sure what brand it is though. Thanks!

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