Pasta salad with pesto

Posted in food, home cooking at 10:24 pm by wingerz


I’m always on the lookout for good side dishes. Caroline and Brandon introduced me to this one, and I made it again to go along with steak tips. Like Brandon, I substituted arugula for basil in the pesto. This is a very flavorful, colorful pasta salad.

Pasta salad with pesto
from America’s Test Kitchen

3/4 cup pine nuts
2 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
Table salt
1 pound farfalle (bow ties) pasta
1/4 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
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
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.

1 Comment »

  1. Caroline said,

    October 1, 2007 at 12:12 am

    I’d love to take credit, but B and I didn’t make that pesto pasta! We made one from a recipe we got from a cooking class at the Chopping Block in Chicago:


    The recipes are actually uncannily similar (only the ATK one has mayo and farfalle). I was actually getting tired of the one we made from the Chopping Block, so I think I’ll give the ATK one a go.

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