For the past few weeks I’ve been giving cooking lessons in my home! Two awesome middle school girls, Morgan and Caroline. We’ve been having fun and cooking whatever they choose to make from my blog. They chose this pesto pasta salad which has been on homebeccanomics for a long time -the pictures were terrible and I used copious amounts of exclamation points in the introduction. After tasting the end result, though, I knew it deserved a facelift because it’s so ridiculously delicious that you shouldn’t let poor photography put you off for one second.
Pesto Pasta Salad
3/4 c. pine nuts
2 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tbsp. salt (for pasta)
1 lb. farfalle (bow ties) pasta
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil plus 1 additional tablespoon
3 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1 c. packed fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large pot.
2. Toast pine nuts in small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until just golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
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.
3. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to water, stir to separate, and cook until tender.
4. 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.
5. When garlic is cool, peel and pulse a few times in the food processor.
6. Place 1/4 cup nuts (this is just a part of what you toasted – not the whole amount), basil, spinach, pepper, lemon juice, 1/4 cup oil, and 1 tsp. salt in food processor and process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
6. Add cheese and mayonnaise and process until thoroughly combined. 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 pine nuts and tomatoes; serve.