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Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Green Beans, Peas & Pesto Vinaigrette

My good friend Karen turned me on to this recipe and it is so delicious that I can't get enough of it.  I make it with Barilla Plus pasta to beef up the protein.  If you like pesto, you will LOVE this great salad.  Take it to a summer barbecue instead of the boring old potato or macaroni salad.  You'll be the hit of the party.


Serves 4

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:

1½ cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
½ extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh, finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 Tbs. red-or-white-wine vinegar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
½ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
¾ tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

FOR THE SALAD:

1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 lb. Pea pods)
1 lb string beans (a mix of wax beans and green beans is nice), snapped into 2-inch
½ lb. Campanelle or other short, shaped pasta
1 TBS. olive oil
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbs. coarsely chopped olives
2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts

Make the vinaigrette: Put the basil, olive oil, Parmigiano, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the salad: Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the peas until just crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove peas, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, drain well, and blot dry.

Bring the water back to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until just crisp-tender, 4-6 minutes. Remove with a large slotted spoon, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, drain well, and pat dry.

Bring the water back to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. Drain thoroughly and immediately pour it out onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Toss the pasta with the 1 Tbs. olive oil to prevent sticking.

In a large serving bowl, toss together the pasta, peas, green beans, and tomatoes. Add enough of the vinaigrette to moisten the pasta. Add the olives and pine nuts, toss gently, and let stand for 10 or 15 minutes. Taste, add more of the vinaigrette, salt or pepper as needed, and serve.

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