Vegetarian Pesto Pasta Salad

Summer is in full swing, which means everyone needs a picnic pasta salad recipe, including you!  Cold salads are great for lunches, beach coolers and midday hikes so mix this up, throw it in a jar and eat it in the sunshine!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 large cucumber peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow or red sweet pepper chopped
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 box of your favorite penne or rotini (I’m a big fan of this veggie pasta)
  • 2 heaping cups fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts if pine nuts aren’t available)
  • 2/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

The how:

  • Put a pot of water on to boil and add a tsp of salt to it.  Once the water boils, cook the pasta according to the box.  Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Clean the basil and add it to the blender along with the peeled garlic, nuts, 1/3 cup olive oil and the parmesan.  Add more olive oil until it reaches the desired consistency.  Add a few shakes of salt and pepper to taste.  Set the pesto aside.
  • Chop up the pepper and broccoli and add them to a large serving bowl. Peel and cut the carrots.  Peel the cucumber, cut it in half long ways and scoop out the seeds. Chop up the cucumber and add it to the bowl.  Rinse off the peas.  If you’re using frozen peas, defrost them in a bowl of hot water for five minutes then drain and add them to the other veggies.
  • Add the pasta to the serving bowl and mix in half of the pesto.  Add more pesto spoonful by spoonful until desired coverage is reached.  (Save the remaining pesto to hydrate the pasta salad in the future.)  Sprinkle some parmesan on the salad if you wish.
  • Keep covered in the fridge for up to a week.

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I promise this pesto pasta salad will rival the classic mix of meat, cheese and pasta that your mother used to make.  Enjoy!

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