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Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients
  • 1 pound whole-grain pasta (fusilli, rotini, penne or farfalle)

  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

  • 3 handfuls baby arugula or spinach Optional:

  • ½ cup thinly sliced Kalamata olives

  • Optional: 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas)

  • Optional: Crumbled feta cheese, little mozzarella balls or diced mozzarella or grated Parmesan

  • Freshly grated black pepper

  • For the pesto:

  • ½ cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

  • ½ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • ¼ cup lemon juice (roughly 2 lemons)

  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

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    Instructions

    We are always looking for new and creative ideas for your weeknight dinner plans.

    Between bustling deadlines and strenuous routines, it can be difficult to step out of the norm of ordinary dinner preparations. But in this lovely age of the internet, creating new, delicious, and vibrant meals in your own home has never been more achievable. And we are here to help you out with that just a little bit more. 

    After a long day of challenges from your daily grind, the last thing you want to do is worry about complex dishes to prepare for dinner. Well, Pesto Pasta Salad may be the perfect solution to this conundrum. 

    Whole grain pasta mixed with luscious leaves of arugula and spinach. Finely chopped cherry tomatoes with delectable scoops of mozzarella cheese. All tied together in a zesty homemade pesto with garlic, basil and lemon. A simple “throw together” dish tha you can look forward to during your daily pursuits. Additionally, you can prepare this recipe ahead of time to enjoy later on throughout the week!

    Boil some water in a large pot. Remember to salt the water (pasta cooking 101). Cook your pasta, strain, and transfer to a plate for later. Save a little bit of your salted water before straining (about ½ a cup).

    Next, we’ll get started on the pesto. Set a medium-large skillet over medium heat and toast the pepitas for about 5 minutes. They will begin to pop once ready. Set aside half of the pepitas, and toss the others into a processor along with your basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and parsley. As they blend, slowly add the olive oil. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency. And now your pesto is ready!

    Now we are going to assemble the salad. Drizzle all of the pesto over the prepared pasta. Toss and stir thoroughly to evenly coat each piece of pasta. If needed, use the water you set aside earlier to help get an even spread. Once tossed, add the arugula, tomatoes, balls of mozzarella (optional), and the remainder of the pepitas. 

    Note: this is where you can get creative. Feel free to add anything you please, you can really have fun with different modifications. 

    Once everything is added, toss all of the ingredients together, sprinkling with pepper (until you achieve your ideal flavor). 

    Let sit for a few minutes to let the bold flavors combine, and enjoy!

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