Pesto Pasta Salad

This wonderful pesto pasta salad makes a great summertime side dish or vegetarian main dish. My local Whole Foods Market makes a pasta salad called Tortellini Rustica which inspired this dish. Finding a 10 oz. jar of pesto for only $2.24 made this pasta dish not only affordable but a down right STEAL.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto Pasta Salad

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Total Recipe cost: $11.69
Servings Per Recipe: 12 (about 1 heaping cup full)
Cost per serving: $0.97
Prep time: 10 min. Cook time: 15 min. Total: 25 min.

14.5 oz. box rotini pasta $1.98
10 oz. jar basil pesto $2.24
6 oz. can pitted black olives $1.46
14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts $2.44
1 med red onion, thinly sliced $0.65
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half $1.98
1 cup shredded mozzarella $0.94
TOTAL $11.69

STEP 1: In a large pot, cook the entire box of pasta according to the directions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice the onion, cut the grape tomatoes in half and drain the artichokes and olives. Put all of the vegetables aside in a large mixing bowl.

STEP 2: When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it well and allow it to cool slightly. Return the pasta to the pot and empty the contents of the jar of pesto onto the pasta. Stir the pesto and pasta until the pasta is evenly coated. Set aside and allow it to cool completely.

STEP 3: Pour the cooled pesto pasta mixture into the mixing bowl with previously prepared vegetables. Add the shredded mozzarella and stir until the entire mixture is coated in pesto and evenly mixed.

STEP 5: Eat the salad cold or heat briefly in the microwave to melt the mozzarella! YUM!

NOTE: Make sure to buy the artichoke hearts in a can rather than a glass jar. The artichokes that come in a glass jar are usually marinated in an oil and herb mixture. They will add a considerable amount of oil to the salad (the pesto already contains quite a bit) and they cost about twice as much.

Also, if you don’t want to use rotini, make sure to buy some sort of pasta that has a lot of ridges or nooks and crannies so the pesto has someplace to hide ;) Smooth noodles will not hold the pesto as well and you might find most of it left on your plate.

I’m going to have to admit it, Barilla Plus is my favorite pasta and I use it in all of my recipes. It does not have a bizarre wheaty taste like whole wheat pasta yet it contains lots of fiber, more protein than regular pasta and a healthy dose of omega-3s! This makes Barilla Plus a GREAT pasta to use if you are cooking meat-free. Plus, it’s VERY affordable! YES!