A simple nut free pesto sauce tossed with pasta, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and zucchini. It is the perfect side dish or main dish.
I am not a huge fan of pesto… I know that is a strange way for my to start a recipe that is called pesto pasta salad. Let me explain why I like it now. Jason has always been a lover of pesto, so I still make it every now and then. I decided to try and make it without the pine nuts, and now I love pesto. You could say that it is no longer pesto since it does not have pine nuts in it, but it still has basil, parmesan, garlic, and olive oil, which are key ingredients in a pesto sauce.
You can the pesto sauce with any other pasta dishes that you like, but this particular pesto pasta salad has fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and zucchini. It is a perfect side dish, or we ate it as our main dish. You can eat it hot or cold, we prefer this dish cold.
- ⅓ cup parmesan (fresh parmesan)
- 1 bunch basil (about 2 cups)
- ¼-1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- ½ kosher salt
- ½ fresh pepper
- 1 lb pasta ( I used Rotini)
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 2 zucchinis, cut into ½ inch thick slices
- 5 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into ½ inch cubes
- ¼ cup parmesan for sprinkling
- Start by boiling the water for your pasta.
- Pesto: In a food processor or blender add the parmesan cheese, basil, ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, zest of lemon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix until well-combined add more olive oil as needed. I ended up using almost ½ cup of olive oil. Set aside
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While the noodles are cooking, heat a medium size skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, add the zucchini and saute for 7-10 minutes. Cook them until they are soft and start to brown. Once done put the cooked zucchini on a plate. set aside. Add the halved tomatoes to the empty skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes or until they just start to wilt. Add to the zucchini plate.
- In a large bowl combine the noodles, veggies, pesto sauce (add as much as you desire) and mozzarella. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.