Do you have a sauce that you can just throw together quickly? A sauce that can be used in many different ways? A sauce that can be easily adapted. Pesto is just that sauce. With basil, garlic and olive oil as its base, I added spinach to my pesto sauce. I have used my pesto sauce to make a Tomato Caprese appetizer, a Pesto Pasta, a Pesto Compound Butter and more. Simply stated, there are a lot of different ways to use pesto. This Pesto Pasta Salad is a fresh summer recipe to showcase the pesto sauce.
The pesto for this recipe includes basil, garlic, olive oil, spinach leaves and Parmesan. Pesto is so easy to make and really has strong flavor. I liked the addition of the spinach for more earthiness to my sauce. Creating a pasta salad for summer is about highlighting freshness and herbs. No mayonnaise in this salad. Now, I enjoy a mayonnaise based pasta salad but I also want to have some recipes that are a little healthier. A pesto sauce is a good way to make a healthier recipe and not sacrifice any flavor.
The key to your pesto sauce is simply learning the consistency you want for the dish you are creating. For this pasta salad, I needed the sauce a little chunkier. I wanted the pesto sauce to stick to the pasta some and not be too oily. I really amped up the freshness by adding more basil and some red Swiss chard. I added crunch with the corn and and some sweetness and acidity with roasted tomatoes. All of the different vegetables I used add great texture and some wonderful color to the pasta salad.
- 2 pounds bow tie pasta
- 12 ounces yellow and red grape tomatoes, roasted
- 2 ears of corn
- 4 sweet peppers red and orange, sliced
- 1 head of Swiss chard, rough chopped
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 6 ounces spinach leaves
- 1/4 cup packed basil
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 ounces grated Parmesan
- Few basil leaves for garnish
- Begin by roasting the tomatoes on a baking tray rubbed in a little bit of olive oil and Kosher salt.
- Roast for 30 minutes in a 325 degree oven.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Either cook the corn in boiling water for 5 - 6 minutes or in the microwave for 2 minutes.
- Cut the corn from the cob after it cools.
- Take the the basil, spinach, garlic and pulse in the food processor.
- Drizzle the olive oil in and pulse until all the ingredients are minced.
- Finish by adding in the Parmesan and set aside.
- Place the pasta in a big container for mixing.
- Add the pesto and mix well.
- Finish by adding in all the vegetables and mix well.
- Garnish with basil chiffonade.
- Serve and enjoy!
The remaining fresh ingredients for the pasta salad.
The pesto added to the bow tie pasta.
The final Pesto Pasta Salad plated.