- Food: Pesto Pasta Salad
- Writer: Nicolas Wilson
- Content-Type: Food Blog
I’ve prepared a pesto pasta salad for you. Fall picnics are in full swing, and this light and refreshing pesto pasta salad is the perfect accompaniment.
The recipe was inspired by Australian food blogger Jessica Prescott of Wholly Goodness’s new cookbook, Vegan Goodness.
Over 60 plant-based recipes are included in the book, along with vibrant and colorful photographs that highlight the beauty of the ingredients and final dishes. Carrots can be rather beautiful, can’t they?
I’m terrible at following a recipe straight from a book, so I experimented a lot with this.
I increased the pesto and cherry tomatoes, as well as changed some of the ingredients—her recipe asks for sautéed mushrooms and asparagus, but I couldn’t locate asparagus this time of year, and I didn’t like it with just mushrooms.
Instead, I added olives, chickpeas, and cheese, all of which are delicious, but I’ll let you decide what you want to do with this one. Enjoy the recipe, and do let me know how it works out in the comments!
This pesto pasta salad is brimming with bright, powerful flavors! It’s light and healthful, and everyone will enjoy it. Vegan and gluten-free options are available. cookieandkate.com
Salad with Pesto Pasta
|15-minute prep time
Time to cook: 10 minutes
Time spent: 25 minutes
Serving: Approximately 6 to 8 servings
Fresh taste abounds in this pesto pasta salad recipe. It’s light, nutritious, and simple to prepare. Perfect for potlucks and picnics! This recipe serves 6 to 8 people as a side dish.
- 1 pound whole grain pasta (fusilli, rotini, penne or farfalle)
- 1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 3 handfuls of baby arugula or spinach
- Optional cheese: Crumbled feta cheese, little mozzarella balls or diced mozzarella or grated Parmesan
- Optional additions: ½ cup thinly sliced Kalamata olives and/or 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)*
- ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- ½ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- For the pasta, bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, as directed on the package. Reserve approximately 12 cups of pasta cooking water before draining, then drain and rinse the pasta under cold water to keep the noodles from sticking together. In a large serving bowl, place the spaghetti.
- Meanwhile, make the pesto as follows: Toast the pepitas in a small skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently, until aromatic and producing small popping noises, about 5 minutes. Half of the pepitas should be placed in a bowl to be used later (we will use them as garnish).
- In a food processor, combine the remaining pepitas. Combine the basil, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while processing, scraping down the sides as needed until the pepitas have broken down and the sauce is fairly smooth.
- To make the pasta salad, pour all of the pesto over the pasta and toss until equally covered, adding a splash of conserved pasta boiling water if needed to thin it out. Then toss in the cherry tomatoes, arugula, remaining toasted pepitas, and any other optional ingredients (olives, chickpeas, and/or cheese).
- Toss once more to mix, then season with pepper to taste. If the pasta needs extra flavor, season with salt and lemon juice to taste. If the tastes are too strong, set it alone for a few minutes before adding a splash of olive oil to balance them out.
- In place of pepitas, you can use pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds in the pesto (although the dish will no longer be nut-free if that matters).
- ELIMINATE THE GLUTEN: Use gluten-free pasta of your choice.
- TO MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE/VEGAN, FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS: Just leave out the cheese!