What's On the Side: Pesto Pasta Salad

Our garden is growing like gangbusters and I think later today I'm going to harvest our first round of sugar snap peas and beans. Our corn is growing tall, our tomatoes are growing ever larger, and the squash are filling out nicely. The basil is going bonkers, too, which proved to be quite perfect for this pesto pasta salad recipe. I accidentally let the basil in my deck herb boxes bolt, so it was quite nice to be able to pick a few extra leaves from our garden variety.

This pesto pasta salad features the ingredients you'd expect in a pasta salad, such as tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. This time around I also added in some peas (I used frozen, but fresh would work just as well) and toasted pine nuts to go with the fresh pesto. And you can make this pasta salad super-easy by using pesto from a jar rather than making your own. Truthfully, I almost went that route myself, until I discovered the lack of pesto sauce in our pantry! I used this recipe from The Kitchn to make my pesto sauce. Personally, I prefer my pasta salad to not be oozing in dressing, so I typically don't add that much sauce to it. So, feel free to use as much (or as little) of the pesto as you wish.

Pesto Pasta Salad (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

3 cups small pasta (I used radiatore)
2-3 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping cup frozen peas, thawed (or you could use fresh, blanched)
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered or halved
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella balls (I used perlini, which are slightly larger than pea-sized)
3-4 tablespoons pesto (fresh or purchased)

1. Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions in salted water. Strain and pour into a large bowl. Toss with 2-3 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil and let cool.
2. Add the peas, quartered tomatoes, and mozzarella to the pasta. Stir gently to combine. Stir in the pesto to evenly coat the pasta and other ingredients.
3. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.