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Italian Linguine Salad With Pesto Dressing

This Italian linguine salad with pesto dressing offers pure la dolce vita and is a must-try for pasta lovers during summer. Al dente linguine, colorful vegetables, and a super easy pesto dressing create a burst of flavor in every bite. Perfect for large gatherings as the vegetarian salad can be made well in advance. 

Linguine salad on a large white serving platter.
Table of contents

Why you’ll my linguine salad recipe

This pasta salad is an adaptation of my mom’s spaghetti salad with a creamy dressing that she served at numerous family gatherings while growing up. 

Packed with fresh veggies: The combination of red pepper, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and black olives not only adds vibrant colors to the pasta salad but also offers a variety of textures and seasonal veggies.

Quick and easy: With simple ingredients and a few easy steps, this easy pasta salad recipe is a breeze to whip up in less than 30 min. Perfect for busy weeknights!

Perfect for a crowd: Whether served as a filling main or a great side dish, this cold linguine salad is a great option for summer meals and gatherings including BBQs, picnics, potlucks, and family reunions.


Ingredients to make linguine salad.
Ingredients to make pesto dressing.
  • Linguine: I chose linguine for this pasta salad but you can also use spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair pasta, or make your own ribbon noodles.
  • Pepper: You’ll need one finely sliced red pepper but you can also opt for a yellow bell pepper or green pepper.
  • Arugula: Fresh and peppery, adding a unique flavor to the salad.
  • Cucumber: Fresh English cucumber, thin ribbons or finely sliced.
  • Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes add sweetness and bright acidity.
  • Onion: Thinly sliced red onion for some savory sharpness. You can also use green onion.
  • Olives: Sliced or whole black olives add extra color and a briny flavor.
  • Pesto: Use your favorite homemade recipe or store-bought green pesto.
  • Lemon: Some lemon juice and zest add some extra fresh flavors to the zesty Italian dressing.
  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil works best but you can also use a lighter olive oil or avocado oil.
  • Salt & black pepper: To taste.
  • Toppings: Crumbled feta or freshly grated parmesan cheese add a salty finish. Toasted pine nuts to add a nutty crunch. Fresh basil can also add extra color and fresh flavor.


  1. Chicken pasta salad: Toss in some braised chicken thighs or grilled chicken for added protein and staying power.
  2. Creamy linguine salad: Swap the pesto dressing for a creamy mayo-based dressing, such as my lemon dressing made with fresh dill.
  3. Italian shrimp salad: Add some garlic shrimp for a seafood twist or check out my shrimp macaroni salad.

How to make this Italian linguine salad

Steps to make linguine salad.
Steps 3-4 on how to make linguine salad.
  1. Add all salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Combine all pesto dressing ingredients. Season to taste.
  3. Add 2/3 of the dressing to the linguine salad. Toss thoroughly to combine.
  4. Toss thoroughly to combine. Add more dressing if needed. Arrange the salad on a large serving platter and garnish with feta and toasted pine nuts.


Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Absolutely! In fact, the flavors tend to meld together even better the next day. Just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How long does the salad last?

This linguine salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Give it a good toss before serving and add extra olive oil if it has become too dry.

If you loved this Italian Linguine Salad Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating below. Thank you!

Linguine salad on a large white serving platter.

Italian Linguine Salad With Pesto Dressing

Caro Jensen
This Italian linguine salad offers pure la dolce vita in a bowl. Perfect for large gatherings as the salad can be made well in advance. 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 284 kcal


  • 8 oz linguine
  • 1 cup arugula washed, dried
  • 1 red bell pepper finely sliced
  • 1 small red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber thin ribbons
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup black olives halved

Pesto Dressing

  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper ground


  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbed
  • 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts


  • Cook linguine following the package directions until al dente. Rinse it under cold water and drain any excess water.
    8 oz linguine
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked linguine, arugula, chopped veggies, and black olives.
    1 cup arugula, 1 red bell pepper, 1 small red onion, 1/2 English cucumber, 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/4 cup black olives
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper to create the dressing. Season to taste.
    1/2 cup pesto, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the salad mixture and toss until well coated.
  • Arrange the salad on a large serving platter. Add crumbed feta cheese and toasted pine nuts on top of the salad.
    1/4 cup feta cheese, 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Serve or refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld together.



Pasta al dente: Make sure to cook the linguine just until al dente to prevent it from becoming mushy in the salad.
Rinse pasta: After cooking, rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process and ensure it stays firm. I know some Italians will scream at this point!
Pesto dressing: Depending on the pesto you’re using you might need to adjust it to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil to balance out the flavors. A salad dressing needs to be quite intense to adequately flavor the large amount of salad ingredients. 
You can drizzle 1/3 of the dressing over the salad just before serving if you prefer more sauce.


Calories: 284kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 6gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 560mgPotassium: 204mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 941IUVitamin C: 25mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 1mg
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