Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad with Peas and Sun-dried Tomatoes
This easy pasta salad recipe is ideal for picnics and potlucks, barbecues and birthday parties. A simple dressing of pesto, mayonnaise, and lemon juice cloaks this family-favorite pasta salad. Sweet and chewy sun-dried tomatoes, and vibrant green peas round out this versatile side dish.
1poundshort pastasuch as gemelli, rotini, or farfalle
1cupfresh or frozen peas
To make the dressing, stir together the pesto, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. If your pesto is homemade, it should already be well-seasoned, but if not, adjust the seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until a minute shy of al dente. Add the peas and blanch them during the final minute of cooking, just until the peas are heated through, but still bright green. Drain the pasta and peas in a colander. Run cold water over the colander to shock the cooking process and cool the pasta and peas.
Add the drained pasta and peas to a large mixing bowl and add the dressing and sun-dried tomatoes. Mix until well combined. The pasta salad is best the day it is made, before it begins to absorb the dressing, although it’s still tasty the next day.
To prepare this recipe in advance, make all the components but don't mix the dressing in with the pasta, peas, and sun-dried tomatoes. Store it in a separate container and stir it all together before serving. This will yield the perfect texture for your creamy pesto pasta salad!
Make homemade pesto and then freeze it (without cheese) in ice cube trays. Then defrost and mix in some Parmesan. This way you can have homemade fresh pesto any time of year!
Add cubed cooked chicken breast to add some protein. Leftover grilled or roasted chicken would be ideal to save time. If you add a lot of chicken, you may want to slightly increase the quantities for the dressing, just to make sure it's enough to coat the additional ingredients.