Pesto Pasta Salad with Spinach, Peas, & Pine Nuts

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Every summer we drive out to Montauk to spend the day with my friend and her family when they camp by the ocean for a week at Hither Hills State Park. She and her husband are such wonderful hosts. The amount of food they prepare is amazing!! This year I brought this flavorful pasta salad and oatmeal raisin cookies to contribute. Little did I know, her husband isn’t a pesto fan. 😦 I couldn’t believe it- so unfortunate. My friend was happy that I brought a pesto dish because she doesn’t serve it and she loves it- thank goodness! (her husband did enjoy the cookies…)

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!: Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties that are Really Fun by Ina Garten. I reduced the amount of olive oil, mayonnaise, and Parmesan to lighten it a little. The spinach and lemon juice help to maintain the pesto’s green color. Tasty!

For the Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pignolis ( pine nuts)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (I used 9 large cloves)
  • 5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 to 1 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

To Finish the Dish:

  • 3/4 pound fusilli pasta
  • 3/4 pound bow tie pasta or rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared pesto
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the Pesto: Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. (I found that I didn’t have to add additional oil; this recipe had enough olive oil that rose to the surface to coat it with a thin film.)
  2. Cook the pasta separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  3. Bring the frozen peas and spinach to room temperature. I place the defrosted spinach in a colander and squeeze out the excess water using a potato masher.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and puree. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

One Year Ago:

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About Josette@thebrookcook

I live in Stony Brook, New York on Long Island. I love garlic and baking. My hobby (and love) is to try new recipes. My favorite recipe resources include The New York Times, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living. Enjoy!

7 responses to “Pesto Pasta Salad with Spinach, Peas, & Pine Nuts

  1. Sue

    you’ve got one heck of a way with pasta, so many good recipes and I have often seen this combination. Looks just amazing! You have to have something to break up the rich pesto and peas and spinach are good!

    • We are HUGE pasta lovers over here! 🙂 I often break up the richness of pesto by substituting half of the olive oil with stock. I kept this one rich because it was for a special occasion! 🙂

  2. I still Have to Try a pesto pasta. My husband and kids are not a big fan of green in pasta whereas I love it.

  3. Delicious! I love Ina recipes as well. 🙂

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