Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

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Pasta salad is delicious – WHEN its done right. I am kinda picky about my pasta salad which is odd b/c I eat pretty much everything that comes in my path. Usually restaurants throw in a bunch of pasta, red onion and a basic Italian salad dressing and charge way too much for that thoughtless dish. No thank you!!

I love to make this salad for when I have friends over. They always think its store-bought, but its not! Its super easy to make and is bursting with flavor. If I have leftovers, I use for lunches or quick dinners on weeknights. Grill up a chicken breast or some shrimp – toss it all together and you’ve got a delicious meal. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 pound rotini pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta
  • 3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cups pesto, store-bought or click here to try my recipe
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parm Ramano
  • 1 small bag frozen petite peas, defrosted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Bring a large heavily salted pot of water to a boil. Add all pasta. Cook in boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes total, but taste to ensure its done. Strain and rinse gently with cold water. Toss with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in the microwave according to package directions. Strain into a colander, rinse with cold water and press out the liquid with the back of a spoon. I also grab paper towels and do one last smoosh through the colander to get out any additional liquid. Set aside.
  3. In a very large bowl, stir together pesto, spinach, lemon juice, balsamic, mayonnaise, salt and black pepper. Add pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, peas, and 1/2 cup the parmesan cheese.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle with other 1/2 cup of the cheese.
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Cooked pasta tossed in olive oil

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Peas thawing

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Chopped sun-dried tomatoes

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Mixing mayo, spinach, pesto, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice & red pepper flakes

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Final product!

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