The last time I made this salad, I made it the same day as I made a potato salad. I made them each in a very large quantity and then we slowly ate them, alternating days, over the course of an entire week as a side to fish, chicken, burgers, veggies, etc. It was the perfect foil to a mayonnaise laden salad then, just as it would be at a picnic or on the summer buffet table.
Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe
1 bunch of asparagus
250 g of green beans
2 pints of grape or cherry tomatoes
200 g of pitted black olives
1/2 cup pesto
Black pepper and parmesan cheese, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water (use around 1 – 2 tablespoons of salt) to boil. Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes, olives, and trim and chop the beans and asparagus. As a rule of thumb, you want the chopped ‘additions’ to be just about the same size and shape as the pasta itself.
Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and return the pot to a boil as quickly as you can. After about 4 or 5 minutes add the chopped green beans and asparagus to the pot. Cook until the pasta is ‘el dente’, as they say, and the veggies are firm but no longer raw. Err on the side of caution here and stop the cooking when the pasta is ready (don’t wait for the veggies to get soft). Even the raw veggies would be edible so you don’t have to cook them a tonne. For bow ties, I think this takes about 9 minutes of total cooking time. Pour the pasta and the veggies into a strainer and rinse with cold water until the pasta has cooled (prevent overcooking). Normally, rinsing pasta is a bad idea because you want to preserve the starches for thickening, say, a light tomato sauce. This is not one of those times. Rinse away.
Toss the pasta, beans, asparagus, tomatoes and olives into a bowl. Add the pesto and stir. Stir in more pesto if you feel it needs some more sauce. Add a bit of pepper or parmesan cheese to taste. Et, voila!
As it happens, when I made this, I poured the pasta into the boiling water, set the timer and then went upstairs to do something for my girls. Somewhere around 15 minutes later, I remembered the pasta, realized that I hadn’t heard the timer and ran back downstairs. Disaster, right? I thought so too. I was distraught, even. I quickly dumped the contents of the pot into a strainer and poured over cold water all over it. The pasta definitely seemed over cooked. I was worried. I made the salad anyway because frankly, the kids will eat it regardless. But here’s the crazy thing – in the fridge the pasta firmed up a bit. I think the refrigerator tends to dry out food a touch so in our case, this worked out totally to our advantage. Ok.. so I wouldn’t suggest doing it on purpose… it’s just a lesson that when you think the entire thing is totally ruined – carry on! It might not be as bad as you think.