Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
Pesto is really the perfect answer to “what sauce should I use for my pasta salad?”. It’s always a winner, and what I love is how versatile it can be. If I don’t have enough basil, I’ll use other herbs – like in this recipe, I supplement with parsley. No pine nuts? That’s fine – walnuts are a great substitute! This is a really simple recipe, but it’s a great side dish for any type of weekend cookout or picnic.
Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 pound stelline or orzo pasta
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 3 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Pecorino cheese wedge for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Season the water generously with salt. Add the orzo and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes less than package directions, about 5 minutes. Drain well reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the walnuts, parsley and basil. Pulse until the herbs are roughly chopped. Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Pulse again until the herbs make a coarse mixture.
- Toss the warm orzo with the coarse pesto along with 1/4 cup pasta water. Transfer to a serving bowl. Using a vegetable peeler on the cheese wedge to make about 1/2 cup of cheese shavings. Top the orzo with the cheese shavings and serve.