Say that a few times quickly ..."pesto pasta salad for presto pasta nights...pesto pasta salad for presto pasta nights:D Even if it is a bit of a tongue twister it is one of the most delicious pasta salads I have had in quite some time. As always I neglect pasta far too often, but, I do try and join in on the fun whenever I do over at Presto Pasta Nights. I am therefore submitting this dish to Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast . This weeks event is being hosted by Pyschgrad, who teams up with the other half of the dynamic duo, her mom Giz over at Equal Opportunity Kitchen.
I must admit this version of pasta salad really appealed to me and peaked my interest. Not only does it cry out with two of my favourite fresh summer ingredients found locally of basil and sun-ripened tomatoes but it is also "light". Instead of mayonnaise it uses yogurt as the base. Mingling with the fresh basil sauce this salad is a must try. Basil is truly an incredible herb. Its spicy and mildly peppery flavor is a welcome addition to pasta.
You could easily substitute the grated Parmesan cheese with some feta and make a Greek version that would be "to die for"!!!
**Pesto Pasta Salad*
based on a recipe from Cooking Light
3 cups packed fresh basil
1 cup packed fresh parsley
1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 pound gemelli or other short pasta
1 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
To make pesto: In a food processor puree basil, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and pine nuts until smooth. With motor running, add olive oil and process until a thick paste forms. Add Parmesan and pulse twice. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
To make salad: Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking.
In a large bowl, combine pesto and Greek yogurt and stir until well blended. Add cold pasta and toss to coat with dressing. Top with tomatoes. Serve salad at room temperature or cover and refrigerate to serve chilled