Potluck Pesto Pasta Salad
Potlucks are so much fun, because you get to make one thing and try a dozen. I usually have the problem that no matter how small my portions are, I can’t fit some of everything on my plate, and I always eat too much. It’s worth it, though, to get to share all that tasty food. People always bring something they know they make well when they have to share.
I like to make pasta salads, because they are fast, they taste good hot or cold, and they travel well. They are also the kind of thing you can throw together from whatever random ingredients you have in the kitchen – the only essential is pasta, and who doesn’t have pasta?
My most recent pasta salad ended up being pesto and red pepper. I mixed things up a bit by boiling the noodles with a little bit of garlic oil, and using garlic oil instead of plain olive oil to toss the salad.
You want to make sure your noodles are al dente, not over cooked. If they are too soft, they disintegrate when you try to toss them. You want them to still be a bit springy.
I love red peppers with a passion. There isn’t much I can think of that isn’t improved by adding red peppers. So having them as the primary flavor in this salad suited me. I used one pepper for this particular salad, but I think two would have been better for a nicer flavor balance.
The red pepper and pesto flavors work very well together. I’ve also used corn, peas, tomatoes, and lemon juice in addition to olive oil. You can really use any ingredients you want to supplement a pasta salad. Chopped chicken sausage (precooked) or minced garlic would make an excellent addition to peppers or tomatoes, but really anything goes. And don’t forget to add salt and pepper.
Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1 box uncooked pasta, your shape of choice but stick to small ones, not long like spaghetti or linguini
- several vegetables of your choice, chopped if applicable (obviously you don’t need to chop corn or peas)
- olive oil or other flavorful sauce or oil such a pesto
- lemon juice (if desired)
- Cook pasta until al dente – generally just shorter than the time listed on the package.
- Drain and rinse the pasta.
- Add chopped vegetables and oil or sauce.
- Toss salad and serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve whenever.
Pasta salad can last at least a week if covered in the fridge.