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Pesto Pasta Salad

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A salad that represents the colors of the Italian flag, and sparks of magic in every bite is a winning dish for me! Great to have as a side or main, at home or at a picnic. I give full permission to splurge on Pecorino, Parmigiani Reggiani, and Mozzarella! Just sayin’!

 

 

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Pesto Pasta Salad

A salad that represents the colors of the Italian flag, and sparks of magic in every bite.
Active Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easy, homemade, mozzarella, pasta, pesto, salad

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Cavatappi or elbow pasta
  • Fresh mozzarella, cubed ciliegine 
  • 10-12 Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Kosher salt

Pesto

  • ¼ cup Pine nuts
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 2 cups Basil leaves, packed
  • cup Pecorino Romano, shredded
  • cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 Lemon, zest
  • pinch Kosher salt
  • ⅓-⅔ cup Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • In a large pot, boil water with a generous pinch of salt. Cook two minutes under directed times (al diente). Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, add the pine nuts to a food processor to create a thick paste. Then add the garlic clove, pecorino, parmesan, lemon zest, and basil. 
  • Scrape the sides of the food processor, and process again while drizzling the extra virgin olive oil. I like pesto to be slightly chunky. Just eyeball the olive oil to your liking. 
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to the same size. Alternatively, mozzarella balls, also known as ciliegine, can be cut in half as the cherry tomatoes. 
  • Drain the pasta, and into a large bowl, add the cooked pasta along with the pesto. If too dry, add a little of the pasta water, about a tablespoon. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, and toss. Eat right away, or refrigerate. Drizzle a little more olive oil, and enjoy!

Notes

PARMESAN & ROMANO CHEESE
Since this recipe has minimal ingredients, using the best cheese is essential. 12 months Parmigiano reggiano and Pecorino Romano are sold in most grocery stores. Get a bargain when buying at Costco! A little goes a long way!

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