Hazelnut Pesto Pasta Salad

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The tastiest pesto pasta salad around! Here fusilli is tossed in a rich hazelnut pesto & served with tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, peppery rocket & crumbled feta. Plus there’s a sprinkling of chilli flakes & a drizzle of olive oil.

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hazelnut pesto pasta salad

Hazelnut Pesto

The pesto that we are using for this pasta salad is a bit different to the regular stuff. For a stronger, nuttier flavour we’re using roasted hazelnuts instead of pine nuts and for an extra flavour boost, we’re also using a good handful of rocket along with the fresh basil.
That being said, if you’d prefer to use a pine nut pesto then feel free! The salad will turn out great either way.

The Pasta

Because of its’ spirally corkscrew shape, fusilli does a fantastic job of catching every last bit of pesto. This makes it the perfect shape for our pasta salad.
When it comes to boiling the pasta , we’re going to be cooking it slightly more than al dente. Adding an extra minute or two onto the pasta’s cooking time, stops it going hard & chewy as it cools. Make sure not to cook it too much though, as the pasta will go soft & mushy!

The Cheese

To cut through the richness of our pasta salad & to add a creamy texture, we’re crumbling some feta over the top. The salty, tangy flavour works incredibly well with the pesto & all of the other salad ingredients.
If your not a fan of feta, I’d go for some torn mozzarella, bocconcini or even a burrata.

How To Make Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto pasta salads are quick & easy to make. Here’s the process…

  1. Blitz all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor until smooth then set aside.
  2. Boil the pasta in salted water until cooked slightly more than al dente.
  3. Refresh pasta under cold water.
  4. In a bowl, combine the cold pasta & pesto then stir in tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, rocket & a glug of olive oil.
  5. Season with salt & pepper then portion into bowls.
  6. Top with crumbled feta, chilli flakes, black pepper & a drizzle of olive oil then serve.
pesto pasta salad

Equipment Used

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More Recipes

Hazelnut Pesto Pasta Salad

A super simple, vibrant pasta salad.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 People
Author: Ben Racey


  • Food Processor/Jug Blender
  • Large Saucepan
  • Large Mixing Bowl


Hazelnut Pesto

  • 50 g Hazelnuts
  • 30 g Rocket Washed
  • 25 g Fresh Basil
  • 10 g Grated Parmesan
  • 2 Cloves Of Garlic
  • 1 Lemon Juiced
  • 120 g Olive Oil

The Salad

  • 350 g Fusilli
  • 200 g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 100 g Rocket Washed
  • 100 g Feta
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Olive Oil


  • First up, the pesto.
    Preheat an oven to 200°c/180°c fan (390°f/360°f).
    Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray & roast for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool then peel off any skins.
  • Next, place the rocket, basil (don’t worry about picking the leaves, throw the stalks in as well!), parmesan, garlic, lemon juice & hazelnuts into a food processor or jug blender .Add in the olive oil, season with salt & pepper then blitz until smooth, scraping the sides down occasionally with a rubber spatula.
    Once blitzed, transfer the pesto to a large mixing bowl & set aside.
  • The Salad.
    Bring a pan of water to the boil over a high heat then season generously with salt. Add in the pasta & cook at a rolling boil until cooked slightly more than al dente, roughly 10 minutes.
    Refresh the pasta under cold water then once cool, drain in a colander.
  • Add the pasta into the mixing bowl & mix until completely coated in pesto.
  • Half the cherry tomatoes & thinly slice the red onion. Add this to the pasta along with the rocket.
    Season with salt & pepper, mix gently then divide equally between bowls.
  • Crumble feta over each bowl of pasta then sprinkle over some chilli flakes & season with black pepper. Drizzle over some olive oil then serve.


To Cook On An Aga.
Roast the hazelnuts in the centre of the baking oven, for 5-10 minutes.
Use the boiling plate to cook the pasta as above.
If you wanted to make this salad in advance, leave the rocket & feta out & add these in just before serving.
Kept in the fridge, this will last for 2-3 days but is best eaten fresh.
Pasta tends to firm up slightly as it cools. By cooking it slightly more than al dente, we avoid hard pasta.

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