Pesto Pasta Salad

Brighten up your mealtime with this Pesto Pasta Salad, a dish that’s as vibrant in flavor as it is in color. Combining the aromatic freshness of pesto with the heartiness of pasta, this salad is perfect for picnics, potlucks, or as a refreshing side dish. Its versatility allows for various additions like sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, or even grilled chicken, making it a customizable delight. This Pesto Pasta Salad is not just a treat to the taste buds but also a feast for the eyes, making it a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz fusilli or rotini pasta
  • 1 cup homemade or store-bought pesto
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella balls, halved
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool down the pasta.
  2. Combine Pasta and Pesto: In a large bowl, mix the cooled pasta with the pesto until evenly coated. The pesto not only adds flavor but also gives the pasta a beautiful, vibrant green hue.
  3. Add the Mix-Ins: To the pesto-coated pasta, add the cherry tomatoes, sliced black olives, and mozzarella balls. Toss gently to combine. The tomatoes add a juicy burst of flavor, while the olives bring a hint of brininess, and the mozzarella adds a creamy texture.
  4. Toast the Pine Nuts: In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until golden and fragrant. This step is crucial as it intensifies the flavor and adds a delightful crunch.
  5. Season and Garnish: Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh basil leaves for an additional layer of flavor and a pop of color.
  6. Chill and Serve: Refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.

This Pesto Pasta Salad is a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh flavors of pesto in a hearty, fulfilling dish. It’s a simple yet elegant salad that’s sure to be a hit at any gathering or even just for a weeknight family dinner. Enjoy the burst of flavors with every forkful!

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