There is nothing worse than a floppy paper plate at a party, in my opinion. They are always floppy with no matter what those commercials say and they are so hard to balance while standing! I served Pesto Pasta Salad in small Chinese takeout boxes at Winston’s Hot Dog Party so everyone could hold onto their own portion. My recipe for Pesto Pasta Salad changes with my mood and what I have on hand. The best tip I have, which I learned from the folks at Liberty Oak Restaurant in Downtown Greensboro, is to use walnuts as fillers for pine nuts and spinach as a filler for basil. Of course, you need enough pine nuts and basil to make it still taste like pesto but you save a lot of money in the meantime. I advise using the following ingredients and play around with them until it tastes right to you.
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 3 cups fresh basil
- 1 large bag fresh spinach or a 10 ounce box frozen (thawed and drained)
- half cup olive oil
- 1 splash lemon juice
- half cup pine nuts
- half cup walnuts
- half cup parmesan cheese
- 1 pound pasta (small shape of your choice)
- pine nuts, fresh or frozen peas, diced onion and tomato are optional add ins at the end
Using a food processor, pulse together basil, spinach, walnuts, pine nuts. Then drip enough olive oil into it to the appropriate consistency. Add a splash of lemon juice to bring out the flavor. Stir in parmesan (if you pulse it too much the cheese will melt and add a funny consistency). Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente. While hot, stir pesto and any add ins you prefer.