For a pasta salad you want to make it simple and very tasty and for that you need something authentically Italian. So why not go for the simple pasta and pesto salad. Simple and easy to do and you can make in advance and serve at your leisure if you are having a party or barbecue.
You will need the following.
50g/2oz fresh basil leaves.
2 to 4 garlic cloves.
60g/2½oz pine nuts.
120ml/4floz extra virgin olive oil.
115g/1oz pecorino cheese.
400g/14oz dried pasta
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Some fresh basil leaves and pecorino cheese shavings for garnish.
Now before we start I must stress a few things. If you are going to make a salad like this then you want the very best fresh ingredients to make your pesto with. If you do not use them then you will be a little disappointed. It is the freshness of the ingredients that will bring all the flavours bursting in to your mouth as you eat it. Now we have got that out of the way we can get down to making the salad.
Take a large pan and fill with water and place upon the stove. Bring it up to the boil and add a little salt to the water. Now it is up to you if you add water now, personally I do not I add it to the pasta after it is cooked to stop it from sticking together. Add the pasta to the water and cook till it is just cooked. Then take it of the heat and into a colander. Now put the drained pasta back in the pan. Place the colander over the pan and put the whole lot under the cold tap. As the pan fills with cold water it stops the pasta from cooking any more and the colander stops the pasta from spilling out of the pan. Once the pasta has cooled put it back in the colander and toss it in a little oil to stop it from sticking together.
Now for the pesto: Take the basil, garlic and pine nuts and place them into a blender. Grate in the pecorino cheese and then put the lid on and start to blend them all together. As you blend them add the oil a little at a time to help get every thing moving together into a rich paste. Let it stand for a while so that the flavours can come together.
Then simply take the pasta and toss it in the pesto, season with salt and pepper if you require doing so. Garnish with some fresh basil leaves and a few cheese shavings.
As pasta salads go it is clean, fresh and a classic; what more do you want.?