Saturday, July 5, 2008
Recipe: Pasta Salad with Pesto
When I bring something to a party or potluck, it is usually one of two things (I need to expand my repertoire!): my multi-colored bean salad or my pasta salad. I like these, especially the latter, because they are relatively easy, make a large amount and with the pasta salad I usually have all the ingredients on hand anyway. Both get super reviews every time I make them. I brought the pasta salad to the party last night, and I have been asked many times for the recipe, so here it is:
1 16 oz box mini penne (I like the Barilla brand) cooked according to directions, rinsed and cooled
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes or 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 6 oz can black olives, sliced
approximately 1 cup of Italian dressing--use a nice one, one with sun dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers, or a balsamic vinaigrette.
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups coarsely shredded mozzarella
Easy, right? Okay, here is the secret ingredient: Add about 1/3 cup pesto. I make and freeze bunches of the stuff all summer long and freeze it. If you don't have pesto, add about 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves and garlic powder to taste. I've even used garlic powder and dried basil, and it is still good, but don't expect the raves.
Also, if you make it well ahead of time, you may need to add a little dressing before serving, as the pasta and cheeses tend to absorb the liquid.
If you want to dress it up further, add something fancy--shrimp and/or quartered artichoke hearts. There are a million possible variations.