I have a certain friend who is a fan of The Technicolor Kitchen, and he often shares with me his opinion and gives me his approval rating of the recipes. I call him The Canadian, for obvious reasons, but I originally did it because when I looked onto my phone to add him, I already had multiple friends by that name. So I saved myself the trouble and nicknamed him “Canadian” on my contacts. We’ll refer to him as such, to protect his identity.
Well back to my story, The Canadian, unfortunately is a vegetarian, I know, CRAZY!!! What kind of lifestyle is that?!?! No, I’m kidding! I completely respect his decision and understand him. Since most of my entree recipes have had meat and/or pork in them, even my potato salad had bacon, so I’ve decided to post a couple of vegetarian recipes for him.
So here it is, a super easy Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad (say that five times fast: Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad, Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad) that is loaded with flavor. In developing this recipe for him and the next one coming up, I asked him if he liked pesto, his response; “Love It.” Well there you have it, this recipe is Approved by The Canadian, can’t get any better than that.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A big bowl, stuffed with fresh baby spinach. Lots and lots of it.
A little handful of fresh basil. I know its a spinach pesto, but basil decided to crash the party. After all, he was the original in Pesto.
Some grated parmesan cheese. A classic pesto ingredient.
Toasted Walnuts. Originally pesto is made with pine nuts, but I find that the walnuts go well with spinach.
Garlic. Fresh garlic. Don’t buy into the grocery store “convenience” of getting the cloves all peeled or even worse when its chopped up. NO! NO! Fight the urge. Peel your own garlic, its fast and has better flavor.
Good ol’ extra virgin olive oil.
And of course some pasta.
The first thing we want to do is fill up a pot with water.
Always start with cold water when bringing it up to a boil for pasta. Don’t try to take a shortcut with hot water thinking “Oh, if I just put hot water into the pot, it’ll boil faster!”
You know who you are. I’m on to you.
If you do that, the pasta doesn’t cook right. Trust me.
Put it over a medium-high heat. Place a lid on it (because a watched pot never boils) and let it come to a rolling boil. Not a simmer. Not a just starting to boil boil (Yes there should be two boils there, read it again. Aww….get it?) but an actual rolling boil.
While we wait. Lets start on our pesto.
Go to your food processor.
Put the spinach in it. You might think it wont fit, but it will.
You make it fit.
Jam it in there, if you have to.
Place in the basil. Just the leaves.
Now add in two cloves of garlic.
The toasted walnuts.
Put a lid on it and pulse it a couple of times, to break it down.
You want it to look really pasty and gritty.
Once it looks like…..Oh wait I think the water is boiling.
We’re multi-tasking. Season the water with salt.
Throw in the noodles.
Stir a couple times and let it cook until its tender. I like it a little chewy.
NOT mushy. Make sure you don’t over cook it. Its a cold salad, so it needs a little bite.
So back to the pesto, once it looks like its all chopped down, put the lid on it and this time turn the machine on “ON” not pulse.
While its running, stream in the olive oil.
When its creamy and smooth, it’s done. Taste for seasoning, and adjust accordingly.
Check on the pasta. The best way is to try one. Don’t reach in, grab it with a fork.
Once the noodles are tender, drain into a colander.
You’re washing away all the nutrients and vitamins when you do that.
Yummy Yummy bow ties, you’ll be eaten soon.
Drain well, and place in a mixing bowl.
Pour some pesto over the noodles. It might be too much so gage it. Add a little first and mix. If you’re lucky, you might have some leftover for other stuff.
Add some parmesan cheese and mix.
Toss again, and you’re done. Place it in a nice bowl…or just grab a fork and park yourself in front of the bowl. You’ll want to eat it all.
If you have extra, which you should, because I made sure you did. You’re welcome!
Pour it into small tupperware.
Make sure you get all of it!!
Every last delicious bit!
Look how awesome it is. Smell it.
Its freshness consolidated into a great spread.
Put a lid on it tightly and place in the fridge for later in the week or in the freezer for later in the month.
Pesto is that simple and its great for any number of dishes. Make some ahead of time at the beginning of the week and store in pre-portioned containers.
Its great on things like sandwiches, paninis, as a salad dressing, with tomato and fresh mozzarella, noodles…..
The possibilities are endless.
I’m saving my little container above, for another recipe, coming up, that The Canadian will be sure to approve and love 🙂
In the meantime I hope you and he enjoy this one, it’s especially good cold!
Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 Large Bag of Baby Spinach
- 1 Bunch of Fresh Basil
- 1/2 Cup Toasted Walnuts
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 1/4 Parmesan Cheese, more for tossing later
- Salt and Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Pound Short Cut Pasta Noodles, like Fusilli or bowties
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling Boil. Once boiling, add some salt to the water and pour in the pasta. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until tender, with a little bite to it still.
Drain and set aside while you make the pesto.
For the pesto: In a food processor place the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese. Pulse a couple of times until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Then turn the processor on and while its running, stream in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.
Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Once satisfied, toss with the pasta and parmesan cheese. This recipe makes a lot of pesto so you might have some leftover. If so, place in an airtight container and save for another recipe later in the week.