Butterfly Pesto Pasta Salad – As summer begins to fade

My oh my – where did the summer go? Okay, so in the Northern Hemisphere, the actual end of summer and beginning of fall is September 22nd. However; the unofficial end of summer is Labor Day Weekend – that last hurrah. How is it possible that the entire summer has managed to slip by me and I haven’t made one of my favorite picnic salads all year? Hum, wonder if not going on a picnic has anything to do with it? This has been one short, hot summer!

This recipe is one I have shared before – as part of bigger cast of players with Let’s Pack a Picnic Together and again on its own a two years ago (yeah, it’s that good)! My guys aren’t pesto fans, but they sure do like this creamy pasta salad. I’ve even served it up in the shape of a butterfly. (Hey, cake pans aren’t just for baking cakes ya know – I use mine as molds for all sorts of things. Just as cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies).

This pasta dish would great for your next barbecue party. While others might be providing the chips and salsa to the next backyard get together, you can bring the pasta salad – cool, creamy and oh so delicious!

Butterfly Pesto Pasta Salad
3 Garlic Cloves, unpeeled
1 Cup Fresh Basil
1 ½ Cups Baby Spinach
¼ Cups Pine Nuts
¼ Cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
½ Cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
1 lb Farfalle Pasta (bow-tie)
1/4 Cup or so Reserved cooking water

Toast garlic in a small skillet over medium-heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and color deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let garlic cool, then peel and chop coarse.

Process garlic, basil, spinach, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Add Parmesan Cheese and mayonnaise, continue to process until thoroughly combined. Transfer pesto to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until pasta is just past al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta. Toss pasta with a little olive oil and spread into a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Let pasta cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss cooled pasta with pesto, adding reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pesto evenly coasts pasta.

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