Last year my basil didn't do well, so I have been looking forward to a new crop this year. A couple of days ago I noticed the four plants I have growing had almost enough leaves to make pesto, and then the weekly email came from Cook's Illustrated highlighting a Pesto Pasta Salad. I could hardly wait to get to the grocery store for pine nuts and baby spinach so I could try it! My basil had only grown enough to produce two cups of leaves so I had to reduce the recipe ingredients by one third, which still made a large amount of salad.
Of course, as soon as I put the salad together, I had to taste it. I was so hungry for pesto that I couldn't wait for it to cool completely in the refrigerator. It was wonderful lukewarm, so I imagine it will be even better cold. If it isn't, I'll let you know. I'm thinking it also would be really good with cooked chicken added to serve as a main dish.
For any pesto lovers out there--I highly recommend this salad! (I also posted the recipe under "Salads" on the "Recipes" page.)
Pesto Pasta Salad
Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 T. salt to a boil. Drop in 2 cloves garlic and blanch 1 minute. Remove garlic and set it aside, then add 1 lb. Farfalle pasta to the boiling water. Cook till well done—about 12 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with 1 T. olive oil. Spread on baking sheet to cool.
Add to food processor:
3 c. basil leaves
1 c. baby spinach leaves
¼ c. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
½ t. pepper
¼ c. pine nuts
1 t. salt
¾ c. (1 ½ oz.) fresh grated Parmesan
6 T. mayonnaise
Process till smooth.
Add cooled pasta to large bowl. Toss with 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size and preference. Add pesto mixture and ½ c. toasted pine nuts. Mix well and refrigerate till well chilled.