Pesto Pasta Salad
Everybody has their own version of how to make pesto and I follow the amounts in my ingredients list fairly loosely. If I have slightly more basil leaves to use up, I’ll add them or if I feel like more garlic, I’ll throw in a little extra. The parmesan flavour in this pesto is quite strong which I love. This pesto can be made and stored in the fridge for when you need a quick mid-week meal. I call this a salad but I prefer to make and serve it straight away rather than refrigerate and serve it cold. I’ve been known to heat it up in the microwave until the tomatoes break down and I’m basically just eating a warm pasta dish.
1 clove garlic, peeled
3 cups basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 olive oil
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
250g fusilli pasta
8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
To cook pasta:
Bring water in a medium saucepan to a boil on high heat, add in 1 teaspoon of salt and place the pasta in the saucepan, turn the heat down to medium and cook the pasta for approximately 10-12 minutes or for the time indicated on the package. Drain and set aside.
To make the pesto:
In a blender or food processor, blitz pine nuts (or walnuts), olive oil, garlic, basil leaves, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and parmesan till everything is finely chopped and smooth. Taste and add extra lemon juice if it needs a little more acidity and stir through a little extra olive oil if you like the sauce more runny.
Pour the pesto over the warm pasta and combine until the pasta is well coated.
Season with salt and pepper. It is best to be light handed with salt as the feta can be quite salty.
Allow the pasta to cool to room temperature.
Just before serving, crumble feta and add tomato quarters to the pasta salad and then lightly toss everything together.
Note: If the pasta salad will be refrigerated for some time it’s a good idea to put aside a few tablespoons of pesto in the fridge to mix through the pasta prior to adding the feta and tomato quarters. I actually prefer this salad at room temperature or even slightly warmed because the pesto flavour seems more intense.