One of the things that I love about spring, our garden, and our CSA starting up is the BASIL!!! I looove pesto and what I love even more than pesto is making my own pesto. So, when we decided to have an impromptu bbq/get together a couple weekends ago, of course pesto was going on the menu. After taking a look at what other ingredients we had in the kitchen to work with, I decided to try and make a pesto pasta salad. I’m not a huge pasta salad fan, but I figured with pesto, you just can’t go wrong!
2 Cups Basil (I eye-balled it)
3 Cloves Garlic (More if you love garlic)
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts (you can use other nuts, or no nuts and get the same tastiness)
1/2-3/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan (it really doesn’t have to be fresh grated but it tastes better!)
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Pesto Pasta Ingredients:
1 Recipe Pesto
3/4 pound of Whole Wheat Pasta (you could use a whole pound, regular pasta, etc..)
8oz container Fresh Mozzarella (doesn’t have to be 8oz. that’s what we had!)
3/4 container cherry tomatoes (you could use a whole container, half container, grape tomatoes, roma tomatoes, whatever you want!)
6-7 Fresh Basil Leaves (unnecessary, I just love basil!)
Directions for Pesto:
1. Place rinsed basil leaves (the 2 cups, not the 6-7 extra leaves) and garlic cloves (peeled) into a food processor and process until basil and garlic are minced up and combined (about a minute or so).
2. Add in Pine Nuts and process until chopped up and mixed in.
3. Turn food processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil. Stop food processor.
4. Mix in the grated cheese with a spatula or wooden spoon. Put pesto aside.
Directions for Pesto Pasta:
1. Place a pasta pot filled with water on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package (al dente is good here!).
2. While the water is cooking, diced up the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into bite-size pieces (I went for about marble sized). If you’re using the small fresh mozzarella balls, I cut the in halves or quarters. If you’re using the cherry or grape tomatoes, I cut them in half.
3. Cut the 6-7 fresh basil leaves into thin strips.
4. When the pasta is done, drain well in a strainer and then place in a large bowl (easiest to place it into your serving bowl- fewer dishes).
5. Add the pesto to the pasta and mix well. Allow this mix to cool (you can place in the refrigerator to speed this process up). I usually make the pasta/pesto mix the night before and let sit overnight or the morning of so it has 2 hours or so to cool.
6. Prior to serving, add the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves to the pesto-pasta mix and toss gently just to mix.
ENJOY! Disclaimer: I don’t have a finished product picture— we were too hungry! I promise it’s beautiful! Especially if you use a small heirloom tomato variety pack (yellow, orange, purple, red, green…)