Pasta Salad with Pesto
Pasta Salad with Pesto
Last week was one of those weeks…one of those weeks that I knew I had to prepare ahead of time or risk eating cereal for lunch and dinner. One of the meals that I prepared was this pasta salad and boy am I glad that I did. Truth time: a lot of pasta salad can be big bowls of flavorless oil or worse, cooked pasta with mayonnaise dumped on-yes I said it. Neither is true for this one. Both mayo and oil are in the recipe, but used in such a way that you do not feel like you are eating a mouthful of grease, plus, the pesto brings a wealth of flavor, and the tomatoes add a bright freshness. In case you cannot tell, I really liked this. Best of all, it made a big bowl that I portioned out for lunch and dinner a few days in this busy, busy week.
|¾||cup pine nuts|
|2||medium cloves garlic, unpeeled|
|1||pound farfalle (bow ties) pasta|
|¼||cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1 additional tablespoon|
|3||cups packed fresh basil leaves (about 4 ounces)|
|1||cup baby spinach (packed), about 1 ounce|
|½||teaspoon ground black pepper|
|2||tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon|
|1 ½||ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese(about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving|
|1||pint cherry tomatoes, quartered, or grape tomatoes, halved (optional)|
1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large pot. Toast pine nuts in small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until just golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. When water is boiling, add garlic and let cook 1 minute. Remove garlic with slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to stop cooking; set aside to cool. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to water, stir to separate, and cook until tender (just past al dente). Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain pasta, toss with 1 tablespoon oil, spread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
3. When garlic is cool, peel and mince or press through garlic press. Place 1/4 cup nuts, garlic, basil, spinach, pepper, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl of food processor and process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add cheese and mayonnaise and process until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to large serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
4. When pasta is cool, toss with pesto, adding reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pesto evenly coats pasta. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup nuts and tomatoes (if using); serve.