Summer Pesto Pasta Salad
Summer pesto pasta salad is great for a quick and easy lunch or dinner, to take to parties, picnics or barbecues. It’s fresh, colorful and a real crowd pleaser.
This pasta salad comes together in less than 15 minutes as you prepare the pesto while the pasta is cooking.
Pesto is so easy to make: just pulse in the food processor a handful of ingredients and you have a tub that stores well for days in the fridge and compliments most dishes. If you don’t have fresh basil in your backyard and it’s too pricey at the store, try using arugula or kale.
Choose a short shape pasta: half rigatoni, penne, farfalle (bow ties) , fusilli (corkscrews). You can also use two different shapes as long as they have the same cooking time. I usually do that when I have too many open boxes in my pantry and I want to finish them up. Feel free to use gluten-free, spelt or wholegrain pasta if you prefer.
Cook the pasta 2 or 3 minutes less than package instructions, drain and rinse it under cold water then toss it with half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to keep it from sticking.
You can also prepare the summer pesto pasta salad ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. Just make sure that you use more pesto than you think you’ll need, as the pasta will absorb a lot of the sauce as it cools, and can become dry. If it does get dryer, simply stir in a little more pesto, or drizzle some extra virgin olive oil to moisten it.
Summer Pesto Pasta Salad
- 2 cups (180 g) dry short-shape pasta half rigatoni, penne, bow ties, or fusilli
- ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup (150 g) cherry tomatoes halved
- 120 grams fresh mozzarella either small balls or cubed, 4.2 ounces
- ¼ cup (50 g) kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- fresh basil for garnish
For the basil pesto:
- 50 grams fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ½ clove garlic
- a big pinch of sea salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, drain and reserve some of the water.
- Rinse the pasta under cold running water to stop the cooking process and toss it with half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the basil pesto.
- In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt and parmesan cheese. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady small stream.
- If the pesto is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out with a bit of the reserved water or more oil.
- When the pasta is cold, toss it with the pesto until evenly coated.
- Add the olives, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, sprinkle with pine nuts and garnish with basil leaves.
- Enjoy this summer pesto pasta salad!