With summer in full swing and our gardens lush with fresh herbs, it’s the perfect time to start the harvest. With scissors in hand, I clipped my homegrown basil and whizzed it up to use in this terrific, adaptable Pesto Pasta Salad!
Make this Pesto Pasta Salad Your Own
A variation of this recipe appears in Winners, the Junior League of Indianapolis’ first cookbook. I’ve eaten it at numerous parties and even had a batch delivered to my door when I had a newborn in tow. Pretty much all foodies in Indy know of its existence. It’s a terrific recipe, but the pesto dressing is made with dried basil and marjoram. I knew I could improve upon that. Like any pasta salad, this beauty can be made according to your family’s preferences. Artichoke hearts are a must and I love the color contrast of red bell peppers and peas. Adding chicken and pepperoni make this a legitimate lunch (or if you’re me, a just as fabulous dinner). An extra dose of Parmesan would also be nice as would chunks of fresh mozzarella. Tweak away!
It’s been a full year since we started this blogger group where 12 of us gather each month to create a party menu or cook to a theme. Barb, our fearless leader, chose herbs for July, and you’ll find the terrific line up below. These innovative blogging friends will have your mouth watering in no time. Be sure to click through to check out the terrific recipes.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is Cooking with Herbs and is hosted by Barb Keibel who blogs at Creative Culinary. With so many marvelous herbs available during the summer, it’s time to start cooking!
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
Cooking with Herbs
- Zucchini, Potato and Herb Fritters with a Garlic and Herb Yogurt Sauce from Creative Culinary
- Pesto Pasta Salad from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Homemade Cilantro Mayonnaise from The Heritage Cook
- Methi Machli – Fish with Fenugreek Sauce from Spice Roots
- Tomato Basil Hummus from Food Hunters Guide
- Lemon Sage Mustard from Stetted
- Lemony Three Bean Salad with Feta, Tomatoes, and Marjoram from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Grilled Chicken Shawarma with Fennel Spinach Tzatziki Sauce from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Sauteed Zucchini Noodles with Fresh Herbs and Hazelnuts fromHealthy Delicious
- Lemongrass Ice Cream from Pastry Chef Online
- Peach Blueberry Basil Cobbler from Never Enough Thyme
- Peach-Rosemary Shrub from girlichef
Serves: 10-12 servings
- ¼-1/2 cup homemade pesto (recipe below)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 10 ounces cooked pasta (favorite shape, cooked in salted water, drained and cooled)
- 10 ounces artichoke hearts, cut in half
- 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- ¼ cup black or green olives, cut in half
- ½ a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 large chicken breast, cooked, cooled and cut into chunks
- ¼ cup pepperoni or salami, cut into bite sized pieces if needed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Whisk together pesto and mayonnaise. Start with ¼ cup of pesto and add more if desired. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients except for the salt and pepper. Gently toss with the dressing, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.
This salad is very adaptable. Leave out ingredients you don't want. Add other vegetables like broccoli, blanched snow peas, green onions, red onions. Change up the pasta shape or use tortellini.
Serves: 6 servings
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, then rinsed and dried.
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- Kosher salt
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
- Place basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and a large pinch of salt in bowl of food processor. Process till smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
- Mix together cheeses, then add to basil mixture and mix by hand till combined.
- If not using immediately, store in refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed over surface.