Pesto Pasta Salad 3Aug08
My pesto pasta salad is pretty easy. I kinda threw it all together because I had pesto to use up. Here it is!
1 box/packet pipe rigate pasta (aka large elbow pasta) – i like this kind because chucks can get stuck in it and it hides flavors inside pretty well – cooked al dente, drained & set aside to cool
1 red bell pepper (or capsicum as they call it here) – diced
3 springs of green onion – chopped
1/2 can of artichoke hearts – quartered
extra virgin olive oil (use a good one!)
1 bunch of fresh basil (just the leaves) – washed and drained
1/4 cup of roasted pinenuts
3-4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan (i add a little bit of romano cheese as well)
chili infused extra virgin olive oil or red chili flakes
fresh ground pepper
Step 1: The pesto
You can always buy a little tub of your favorite store bought pesto for this, skip to step 2 if you did that. To make the pesto the easy way, use a food chopper/processor. I bought my little chopper at target for 10 bucks – saves my life when it comes to pesto and salsas. Okay, finely chop pine nuts, garlic, basil leaves, parmesan cheese – start in that order and add each ingredient after adding about a table spoon of extra virgin olive oil to the mix. You should end up with about 3-4 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil in the mix. Salt and pepper to taste.
If you’re doing this the old fashion way. Chop everything as fine as possible, yes even the cheese if you don’t have a fine grater. Crush the pine nuts in a zip lock bag by rolling a canned soup over it a few times. Throw everything chopped in a bowl and drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
*note* you can keep this in the fridge or freeze little portions for quick dinners or to top off some chicken.
Step 2: The mixing
Now that you’ve got the pesto, all you really need left is to mix it all together. I like to let the artichoke hearts soak in the pesto for a while before throwing in the other mixtures so it absorbs more of the pesto flavor and not taste like it’s from a can! Toss in the pasta a couple scoops at a time to make sure you have enough pesto for the mixture. It’s up to you how tasty you want it! Mix in the chopped bell pepper and green onions. Top with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Step 3: The extra kick
To make sure the salad isn’t too dry, this is where I would add in a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil but for this pasta, I added chili infused extra virgin olive oil. You could use just regular chili oil (make sure it’s just a splash) or red chili flakes with regular extra virgin olive oil. I find that the added little spice balances the parmesan cheese really well.
Hope you like it! Can be served cold, room temp or warm.