Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto pasta salad, loaded with a variety of fresh vegetables, is a powerhouse of nutrition that everyone should consider making. The basil-based pesto is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, particularly vitamin K, which plays a vital role in bone health and blood clotting. When combined with pasta, it provides a balanced dish of carbohydrates and healthy fats, especially when using whole-grain pasta varieties. The addition of colorful vegetables not only enhances the visual appeal but also brings a plethora of nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These vegetables can boost the immune system, aid digestion, and provide a spectrum of antioxidants that combat free radicals in the body. Incorporating this dish into your diet is a delicious and effortless way to enjoy the bounties of nature while nourishing your body.
2 cups penne or rotini pasta (or any pasta shape of your choice)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup broccoli florets, blanched
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup bell peppers (mix of colors), diced
Optional: red pepper flakes, for a little kick
Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente.
Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic.
Pulse until finely chopped.
With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube.
Stop and scrape down the sides as needed.
Season with salt and pepper. Adjust to taste.
Blanch the broccoli florets: Quickly boil for 1-2 minutes and then immediately transfer to an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Drain.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and dice the bell peppers.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, pesto, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers.
Toss until everything is well coated with the pesto.
Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Garnish with a sprinkle of extra Parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, and optionally, a pinch of red pepper flakes for those who like it spicy!
Serve cold or at room temperature.