lunchbox life: basil-pistachio pesto pasta salad

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…say that five times fast!  I am really looking forward to enjoying this all week.  We have had the most gorgeous weekend in Macon–mid-60s, bright blue sky, and everyone is in a wonderful mood.  It’s amazing to see what some sun can do for our attitudes, am I right?  Warmer weather is great for a myriad of reasons, but I’ll add one more: pasta salad.  Oh yes.  I have many variations of pasta salad in my back pocket, but this is a new one that I’m very excited to share with you.

First of all, this isn’t your mama’s mayonnaise-y pasta salad (although that can be great, too).  This pasta salad is held together by some easy-to-make homemade pesto and is lightened up by adding volume with veggies instead of extra pasta.  It’s also a beauty full of my favorite color: green!

There are many ways you could vary this dish to fit your tastes.  You could definitely add chopped chicken breast or shrimp for some protein, sub your favorite veggies for the ones I’ve used, or add in some grape tomatoes or pine nuts.  This would be a great side dish to take to a potluck because it would travel well, looks a little fancy, and will offer the guests something green amongst the other goodies.

Basil-Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad

For the pesto:

5 garlic cloves, skin removed

1.5 oz. basil leaves

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup pistachios, shells removed

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Place all of the above ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor; pulse to combine.  When the ingredients are evenly shredded, turn the processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil.  Set aside.

for the rest

8 oz. whole wheat fusilli (spirals)

1 lb. asparagus, woodsy stems removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced then cut into half-moons

3 cups arugula (you could sub spinach here if you like)

1/2 cup pesto (above recipe OR store-bought)

Prepare pasta according to box directions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water; set aside.  Place the cut asparagus and zucchini in a medium pot, cover with water, then bring to a quick boil.  As soon as the water is boiling, turn off the heat, drain the water, and rinse the veggies in cold water.  In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta, veggies, arugula, and pesto.  Mix to combine and refrigerate.

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One comment

  1. You are a rock star, well done once again. I love the change in seasons, as it brings a change to the palate (via sub-conscience with me) and what is also readily available. The recipe does indeed lend itself to personal tastes for veggies etc. Thanks for sharing your skills and ideas. Mark Toth

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