Easy Caprese Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

If I keep telling myself summer is coming soon, maybe this miserable “spring” weather will finally get its s#!+ together…right? In an effort to help summer speed up, I made a potluck-style pesto pasta salad this week to get myself in the summer mindset leading up to Memorial Day Weekend.

I came up with this recipe last year when I was gearing up for a weekend beach camping trip for the Mumford and Sons Gentlemen of the Road tour, which was stopping in Seaside, NJ. I wanted to pack some healthy snacks so I could stick with my new Tone It Up plan and also avoid living off beach food — of course, I couldn’t make it through the weekend without some deep fried Oreos, but that’s another story.

My next attempt at this recipe was for a Homecoming tailgate at University of Maryland last fall. I brought all the ingredients with me to my friends’ apartment, and we made the pasta salad at like 2AM the night before the Homecoming game. We brought it to our tailgate, where some random stupid girls started EATING IT FROM THE TUPPERWARE. Ew, right? Ew. We yelled at them, and they retaliated by stealing the container of pasta salad. So after all that prep, none of my friends got to enjoy this magnificent dish. To this day, I still consider this an incredible tragedy, but it serves as a testament to how good this was because people were willing to steal for it. Pretty cool.

Caprese Kale Pesto Pasta Salad

Servings: 4
Cost per serving: $3


  • 3 cups gluten free noodles (uncooked)
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed, packed tight (tbh I probably used 3 cups kale)
  • 1 cup basil, packed tight
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4 cloves minced garlic (2 tsp pre-minced)
  • 2 cups halved grape tomotoes
  • 16 small mozzarella balls
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cook pasta according to instructions for al dente. Drain and rinse. Return to pan.
  2. In a food processor or Vitamix, blend kale, basil, and salt until kale is finely chopped. With the motor running (carefully), add the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Add garlic, pine nuts, and pepper, stirring until combined.
  3. Add the pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella balls to the pan with the noodles and stir. Pesto may get a little clumpy, so just keep mixing!
  4. You can bring this to a potluck…or divide it into tupperwares (about 2 cups per serving) and enjoy for lunches throughout the week.

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