I love pesto. Seriously love it. My kids like it too, but my husband, the stinker that he is, when it comes to anything yummy, hates it. So, I rarely get to make anything with pesto at home.
I've made this pesto pasta salad only a handful times, but it is SO, SO good. The only times I ever get to make it is for pot-lucks at our church or for our school PTO events. I always get big compliments on the salad and many ask for the recipe. This salad is fairly simple, but as with so much in life, simple is always better!
Pesto Pasta Salad
(recipe adapted from Food.com)
10 servings (I usually make 1 1/2 of this recipe to serve a larger amount of people as a side dish)
1 lb rotini pasta (I use multi-grain 14 oz package)
1- 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped coarsely
1- 10 oz container of cherry tomatoes (I like to use a mix of gold and cherry tomatoes), halved
1- 6 oz can of medium-sized black olives, drained and halved
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
12 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
8 to 11 oz of fresh or prepared basil pesto (to taste)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (in a can)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
Cook rotini pasta according to package directions, just to al-dente. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.
In a very large bowl (like a punch bowl), gently mix together the chopped artichoke hearts, halved cherry tomatoes, halved black olives, chopped green pepper and cubed mozzarella cheese. Mix the pesto with the olive oil and add to the bowl, along with the parmesan cheese and minced garlic. Combine with the other ingredients.
Gently fold in the pasta and add the salt and pepper to taste. Mix and check seasoning again. Add more salt, pepper and parmesan cheese to your liking.
Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. This salad can be made one day ahead of serving. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator about a half hour or so before, stir and add a little more olive oil, if needed, to "refresh" the salad. Enjoy!