Hearty Pesto Pasta Salad
For the pasta:
1 pound farfalle, ziti or penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the pesto:
3 cups basil leaves that have been rinsed and dried
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 small clove garlic, pressed or chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To finish the salad:
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes that have been halved or quartered into
small bite-size pieces
For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high
heat. When boiling add the pasta and cook to within two minutes of the
al dente package directions. Test for doneness -- the pasta should be
tender with a very slight bite. Drain and toss with tablespoon of olive
oil. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature.
For the pesto: Meanwhile place the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic
and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a smooth paste
but not pureed, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as
necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and add the cheese.
To finish the salad: Add the tomatoes to the pasta and toss with the
pesto. Serve immediately.
Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish.
Add two cups of any of the following:
Fresh mozzarella cut into1/2-inch dice.
Leftover cooked chicken cut into1/2-inch dice.
Asparagus tips cut into one-inch lengths and added to the pasta pot for
the final four minutes of cooking.
Cauliflower that has been cut into small bite-sized florettes and added
to the pasta pot for the final four minutes of cooking.
Green beans that have been cut into two-inch lengths and added to the
pasta pot for the final four minutes of cooking.
Cooked white beans or fava beans
Add one cup of the following:
Crumbled feta cheese
Oil-cured black olives that have been pitted and roughly chopped
Chicken, mozzarella and tomato
Feta and green beans
Snap peas, olives and tomato