Pasta Salad w/ Pesto

Pasta Salad w/ Pesto

Perfect for a summer barbecue, this dish is best served the day it is prepared. Any parmesan cheese can be used, but authentic Parmesano Reggiano will give you the best flavor.


This salad is best served the day it is made; if it’s been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before serving. The pesto can be made a day ahead—just cook the garlic cloves in a small saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Garnish with additional shaved or grated Parmesan.


3/4 cup pine nuts
2 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
Table salt
1 pound farfalle (bow ties) pasta
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (about 4 ounces)
1 cup packed baby spinach (about 1 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
11/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered, or grape tomatoes, halved (optional)

1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large pot. Toast pine nuts in small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until just golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. When water is boiling, add garlic and let cook 1 minute. Remove garlic with slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to stop cooking; set aside to cool. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to water, stir to separate, and cook until tender (just past al dente). Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain pasta, toss with 1 tablespoon oil, spread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

3. When garlic is cool, peel and mince or press through garlic press. Place 1/4 cup nuts, garlic, basil, spinach, pepper, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl of food proc-essor and process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add cheese and mayonnaise and process until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to large serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.

4. When pasta is cool, toss with pesto, adding reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pesto evenly coats pasta. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup nuts and tomatoes (if using); serve.