Recipe: Summertime Pesto Pasta Salad


When carb loading and basil season overlap you know good things are about to happen. Here is my recipe for a delicious and hearty pasta salad that I happily ate for lunch every day this week. I generally like to keep things simple but every once and a while a couple extra ingredients can make a dish really special. I have separated out the basic recipe and the listed the extra's I like to add. Pasta:

penne uncooked

8 servings (2 boxes)

I could probably write an entire post dissecting the pros and cons of different pastas for pasta salad. But for your sake, I won't. Basically use what you want and follow the directions on the box. This time I chose a mix of organic wheat mini shells, rice and quinoa spirals and brown rice penne. I minimized the gluten because I typically don't eat a lot of  it and don't want to freak out my stomach the week of a race.

Cook pasta to desired tenderness and run cold water over it to cool it off. Set aside.

Pesto: IMG_0623

My pesto for pasta salad is a little runnier than traditional pesto meant for hot pasta. I find it spreads more easily and since it doesn't get "cooked" from contact with hot pasta the flavor is more potent. I also leave out the cheese and pine nuts (you'll see why later) but feel free to add in either of these if you prefer. Finally, I sneak in some chia seeds and flax seeds for extra omega goodness.

2 Cups fresh basil leaves

6 cloves of garlic

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup avocado oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons dry chia seeds

1 tablespoon flax seeds

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blench until smooth

Extras (aka the good stuff)

mozzballs2 (1)

Just the pasta and pesto is a great meal but here are some extras that make it even tastier:

Mini mozzarella balls

Cherry tomatoes

Sliced chicken breast

raw baby spinach

Pine nuts

What else do you put in your pasta salad?

Happy carb loading!