A Cool and Summery Salad

Jun 25, 2019

Pesto is probably my favorite condiment.  

Credit Justin Fox Burks

This delicious concoction gives everything a taste of summer … and since it freezes well, fresh pesto can be enjoyed year round.

Pesto has many uses. It can be a warm pasta sauce, a garnish for soup, a non-tomato pizza sauce, a spread for sandwiches, or simply tossed with veggies.  In the summer, I use pesto as the sauce for pasta salad.

Homemade pesto is very easy to make and a great way to use all the fresh basil that is so plentiful this time of year.

Simply place about 2 cups fresh basil leaves and about 1/3 cup pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add a few cloves garlic and pulse a few times more. With the food processor running, slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil in a constant stream. For the finishing touch, add a little grated Parmesan cheese and pulse again until blended. Be sure to season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Freeze what you are not using that day in ice cube trays.  This way you always have just the right portion on hand.

When making a cold pasta salad, I mix my pesto with a little mayonnaise. I find that this simple step makes my dressing creamier as well as helps the pesto stay vibrant green longer.

I like to use corkscrew shaped pasta for my pasta salad because it holds the sauce, but feel free to use whatever short pasta that you have on hand.

Toss in your favorite vegetables. Cherry tomatoes, diced peppers, and even fresh peas all would be delicious additions. That’s the beauty of pasta salad … there really are no rules.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Pesto Pasta Salad

  • 1/2 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 pound cavatappi pasta, cooked per package directions and chilled
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl whisk together the pesto and mayonnaise. Add the cooked pasta, cheese, and peas and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve chilled.

Serves 6.

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler.