Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
- 1 pound fusilli (spiral-shaped) pasta
- 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2 cups small bocconcini (marinated mozzarella balls), optional and halved if desired
- 1 cup diced yellow bell pepper
- 1 cup sliced black olives
- Basil Pesto
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup packed fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
- 1/4 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1 medium clove garlic, crushed and peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2. To make the pesto: In a blender or a food processor, combine the basil, parsley, Romano, olive oil, walnuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend or process until smooth.
3. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, bell pepper, and olives to the pasta, and toss to mix.
4. Scrape the pesto into the bowl with the pasta and toss to mix and coat. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve right away at room temperature.
Recipe Notes• The pesto can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Let it come to room temperature before using. It may also be frozen. If you plan on freezing the pesto, leave out the garlic and then stir it in just before using.
• Cooked pasta will absorb all of the dressing in a salad very quickly, so be sure to put the two together just before you're going to serve it. Or, reserve some of the dressing to add to the salad just before serving.
• Other than pasta, pesto is great on pizza, stirred into minestrone soup, as a sandwich spread, or used as a topping for grilled steaks, chicken or fish, such as salmon.
• You can easily turn this pesto pasta into a main-dish salad by adding some sliced cooked chicken, grilled shrimp, chopped steak, or cubes of ham. Other tasty additions might be drained canned chick peas or white beans.