Friday, August 30, 2013

Pesto Pasta Salad

Hello, friends! I can hardly believe it's the last real weekend of the summer. Sad face. At least we have some good stuff planned. Last night we kicked off the weekend early with dinner with a bunch of our good friends at Labrador Lounge. The food was delicious (keep an eye out on Jersey Bites for a review soon!), but the company was even better.

We went with three other couples - Heather & Kevin, Adam & Liz, and Dan & Jen. We had so much fun and all said we need to do it more often.

I got up bright and early this morning for work, but we closed at 2:00 today and I'm now waiting for my family to roll in. We have a big group staying with us this weekend, including my parents, sister and her boyfriend, grandmother and two cousins. We'll be beaching, BBQing and wine tasting all weekend so I probably won't have time to check in much, so I figured I'd leave you today with a fantastic pasta salad recipe in case you're looking for a dish to bring to any backyard parties this weekend. Basil is still in full swing, but not for much longer, so now's the time to make it!

Last weekend I made this pesto pasta for our BBQ and everyone loved it. I made a huge double batch and the whole thing was devoured.

I almost bought the pesto since I had so many other things to make, but then I checked myself. Pesto is so easy to make and tastes SO much better when it's fresh. Plus, Heather has mountains of basil and she sent me a giant Ziploc bag full of the stuff to use.

I made it in the morning but didn't toss it with pasta til the afternoon, so I coated the top of it with a thin layer of olive oil before sticking it in the fridge. The olive oil protects the basil so it stays bright green and doesn't oxidize while being stored. A little tip I learned a while ago from Ina Garten.

When it was time to serve, I tossed it over cold pasta and added garden cherry tomatoes and blanched broccoli. Yum, yum.

Can't get enough of this stuff. I had some leftover pesto (I actually made 8 cups of it) so have been eating it on everything lately - tomatoes, shrimp, crackers, everything.

Riker's out with his grandparents for the afternoon and Matt and I are both done work, so we're going to head out and enjoy some alone time for a few hours before the craziness of the weekend ensues. I'm thinking some crabbing and then a drink at the tiki bar is in order. :) Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves 8-10 as a side

Ingredients - Pesto
4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
2/3 cup walnuts (or pine nuts)
3-4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch salt and pepper

Ingredients - Salad
1 pound pasta (I used bowties)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets

To make pesto: Combine all ingredients except oil and s&p in a food processor. Pulse until it becomes a thick paste. With the blade running, stream in the olive oil until the pesto comes together. Then add salt & pepper to taste. May be used right away, or stored in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a few months.

To make salad: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions; then drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.

Blanche the broccoli in boiling water for 2 minutes. (Tip: Just add the broccoli to the pasta during the last two minutes of cooking, then drain and rinse it right along with the pasta).

When the pasta is cool, combine with the pesto, broccoli and tomatoes. Serve immediately. Note: If you're not serving immediately, reserve some of the pesto and toss it again right before serving so the salad doesn't get dry.

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