One of our favorite customers called this salad the 5 P’s salad because it has: Pasta, Pesto, Peas, Pignoli(pine nuts) and Parmesan. We called it good. We adapted the recipe originally from Barefoot Contessa to better suit the needs of a busy tea room. Her recipe called for two kinds of larger pasta. We preferred it with small pasta to improve the look of serving it in our little side salad dishes and less easily dropped off a fork when eating. We also used a jarred pesto, she makes her own from scratch. However you make it, this salad is delicious!
Pasta Pesto and Pea Salad
- 4 cups small shell pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 – 10oz. package frozen peas
- 1 – 10 oz. package frozen spinach
- 1 – 6 oz. jar pesto
- 1 1/4 cup mayonaise
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- Cook pasta per package directions, drain, put into large bowl and immediately toss with olive oil.
- Rinse frozen peas with cold water to remove any ice crystals but not defrost completely. Add peas to pasta. Toss together and set aside. The peas will help chill the pasta as they defrost.
- While the pasta is cooking, toast the pine nuts over a low flame in the bottom of a heavy skillet. Be careful, pine nuts are rather delicate and can burn quickly. Do not leave them on the heat too long. Remove from the pan to cool. If you leave the pine nuts in a hot pan they can and will burn. Set aside.
- In a colander, rinse frozen spinach till completely thawed and no ice crystals remain. Squeeze out as much water as possible while in colander then put thawed spinach in a clean towel and squeeze until all water is removed and spinach is almost dry.
- Combine thawed and squeezed dry spinach, pesto, mayonnaise and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor pulsing until smooth. Open the top and scrape down the sides, pulse a few more times to fully incorporate.
- Add cooled pine nuts and grated Parmesan cheese to pasta and pea mixture. Toss to combine.
- Top this mixture with the pesto dressing and toss to combine.
- Chill the salad at least one hour but 4 hours is better.