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Summer Pasta Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

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Serves eight to 10 as a side dish or four as a main dish.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 65

This fresh-tasting pasta salad is a summer twist on the traditional Ligurian dish of pasta with pesto and green beans. Cherry tomatoes add a burst of bright color and sweetness.

For the Vinaigrette
  • 1-1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh, finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 3 Tbs. red- or white-wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
  • kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb. green beans or wax beans (or a mix), trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/2 lb. dried campanelle, cavatappi, or other short, chunky pasta shape
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
  • Freshly ground pepper
Make the vinaigrette:

Put the basil, olive oil, Parmigiano, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste

Make the salad:

Put 4 to 6 quarts of salted water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Drop the green beans and/or wax beans into the boiling water and cook until the beans are just crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the beans from the water with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain and cool. Drop the peas in the water and cook until just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes for fresh peas (frozen peas only need a minute or so to thaw them). Remove the peas from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Gently blot the peas and beans dry.

Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook just until al dente, following package instructions. Drain the pasta thoroughly by shaking it in a colander and immediately pouring it out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the pasta with the olive oil to prevent sticking.

Transfer the cooled pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the beans, peas, and cherry tomatoes and toss. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten the pasta, taking care not to overdress it (you may not need it all). Add the pine nuts and toss again. Let the salad rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and then taste the salad again. If necessary, add a little viniagrette and salt and pepper. Serve as soon as possible.

Wonderful pasta salad with lots of flavor. Definitely will be making again!

This is a home run...make it vegan by eliminating the grated parm and it's still equally delicious. Thow some grilled shrimp in it and it's a great ladies lunch. Healthy....not much oil poer serving, seitch up the pasta to a whole wheat pasta and it's a VERY healthy dish. Made it while camping...prep is simple enough to do it, makes a splashy presentation too. I'm serving it to a chef tonight, I have no worries, I'm sure he'll love it. He's making steaks and a killer hollandaise sauce to go with it...YUMMY?! Happy to be me!

Great dish! The vinagrette is delicious, and I bet it would work with other veggies as well. I made it as written. And I think it holds up just fine in the refrigerator over night if you're looking for something to make ahead. I let it warm up a bit before I served it the day after I made it, and it tasted great then too.

This is my favorite dressing for a pasta salad. I make it ALL the time and everyone always loves it! I highly recommend this recipe.

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