Parsley Thief’s Pasta Salad with Spinach Pesto

pasta-salad-437In the summer, sometimes simple is best- and The Parsley Thief’s pasta salad made with spinach pesto and greens is the perfect light lunch for a warm day. This is also a recipe that’s easy to adapt to whatever greens look best, and can be thrown together in very little time. We love taking it along for our summer picnics in Waveny, and since the pesto freezes well, it’s even easier to make the second time.

Parsley Thief’s Pasta Salad with Spinach Pesto
Serves 4-6
This salad is really about using what’s available to you locally. Any bitter green can be substituted for the mizuna, and likewise any milder leafy green can be used in place of the mesclun. Spinach pesto is milder than traditional basil pesto, making it perfect for kids, and it’s more economical. This recipe yields about 1 ½ cups of pesto, so you’ll have plenty for leftovers, and pesto freezes well!

Ingredients:
1 pound fusilli
4 ½ ounces fresh spinach leaves
⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano cheese
a pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes
a few grinds of black pepper
½ cup grapeseed oil
1 cup mizuna leaves
1 cup mesclun mix
optional garnish: additional pine nuts, grated cheese & micro greens

Boil the pasta for 1 minute less than al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse under cool water. Transfer to a mixing bowl, drizzle with the tiniest splash of oil {just enough to keep it from sticking together} and toss.

Add the spinach, pine nuts, cheese, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor. With the processor running, slowly pour the grapeseed oil in through the feed tube. Process until smooth.

Pour about a ½ cup of the spinach pesto over the cooked pasta, and toss to coat evenly. Add more, if desired, until the pasta is coated well with pesto. If necessary, tear or coarsely chop the mizuna and mesclun greens into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the pasta, and toss gently. Taste, and season with a bit more salt and freshly ground pepper to your liking.

Transfer the pasta salad to a serving platter, or divide among serving plates, and sprinkle with some pine nuts and a bit more freshly grated cheese. Garnish the top with a few pinches of colorful micro greens {I used micro red orach}, and serve.

Check out this recipe and more at The Parsley Thief blog

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