Italian Pesto Pasta Salad

Northwestgal avatar
By Vickie Parks
from Renton, WA

I combined two of my "go to" favorites and came up with this recipe recently when we wanted a quick pasta lunch. It was quite good. You can change the vegetables to suit your taste preferences, but the list of ingredients as listed makes for a rather tasty salad recipe. For a more substantial dish, you can add some chopped up salami or chopped jamon (Spanish ham) to the salad. The recipe makes a fresh pesto from scratch. For more convenience, you can use a commercial pesto sauce. If you do so, then you can skip Step #1 and just move on to step #2 of the recipe roasting the bell pepper.

serves 4 to 6
prep time 35 Min
cook time 10 Min
method Stove Top

Ingredients

  • PESTO SAUCE
  •   1 cup
    fresh basil leaves
  •   3 clove
    garlic, peeled
  •   3 Tbsp
    pine nuts
  •   1/3 cup
    freshly grated parmesan cheese (it's best to avoid the canned grated parmesan)
  •  
    salt and pepper, to taste
  •   1/3 cup
    olive oil
  • PASTA SALAD
  •   1 (16-oz) pkg
    penne pasta, cooked and drained
  •   10
    sun-dried tomatoes, drained (reserve the oil)
  •   1
    red or green bell pepper, roasted and cut in half and sliced into thin strips
  •   8 spears
    asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
  •   3/4 cup
    sliced olives
  •   6 oz
    sliced mushrooms
  •   1 cup
    broccolini, cut into bite-size pieces
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How To Make

  • 1
    FOR THE PESTO SAUCE: Pulse the basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese in a food processor for 10 seconds. With the food processor still on, pour olive oil in a steady stream and continue to process for a few more seconds or until well blended. Set pesto sauce aside. (It will keep in refrigerator for up to one week if stored in an air-tight container.)
  • 2
    TO ROAST THE BELL PEPPER: Slice the pepper in half vertically (from stem to bottom). Remove seeds. Place peppers cut side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the peppers in 450° oven for about 25 minutes or until the skins are wrinkled and just starting to char. Rotate the pan about half way through roasting, for even charring.
  • 3
    Cook pasta until al dente, and drain well. Add pasta (while still hot but well drained) in a large mixing bowl. Add all of the cut-up vegetables and pesto sauce, and toss well until well blended.
  • 4
    IF SERVING WARM: Place a clean cloth over the bowl and let stand about 10 minutes, to allow the hot pasta and roasted pepper to soften the vegetables. IF SERVING CHILLED: Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

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