refreshing vegetarian pasta salad

cooking minette's vegetarian pasta salad
the other day i was asked to bring a side dish to my sister’s dinner party. i decided on a vegetarian pasta salad mostly because i was having a busy day, and had to do my cooking a few hours ahead of time (this salad keeps really well up to 4 hours prior to serving). my preference is to serve pasta salads at room temperature (not cold), so this one was allowed to sit on my kitchen counter for a couple of hours before we left the house. it was a beautiful night, and dinner was served outdoors: delicious marinated grilled flank steak, green salad with fennel and arugula, an avocado-tomato salad (inspired by this recipe), and my pasta salad, which provided some starchy substance. the pasta was a big hit-at least with the kids, who were less worried about their waistlines (this is California, after all)!! the adults must have enjoyed it as well….the bowl came home empty. the ingredients (as far as the vegetables) for this salad can be easily substituted based on what you have available or is in season. this is a perfect bring along dish…give it a try-you won’t be disappointed.
tomatoes, basil chiffonade, and home made lemony pesto
ingredients for 6-8 servings:

  • 1 large bunch fresh basil
  • 1 package fusilli pasta (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (finely cubed) or about 20 baby tomatoes, sliced in half (here i added a few baby heirlooms)
  • 1 small onion, cubed
  • 2-3 organic zucchini, cubed-about 1-1.5 cups
  • 3 tbs lemony pesto sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (if you like spicy)
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

1. cook the pasta per package instructions, drain, and set aside. in a skillet heat about 1 tbs olive oil, add cubed onions and zucchini with a touch of salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using)-sautee on high heat for about 5-7 minutes until tender, and allow the vegetables to cool off completely.

2. in a bowl combine the tomatoes, 1/2 of the fresh basil (thinly sliced in a chiffonade), the pesto sauce, 1 tbs olive oil, and the lemon juice.

3. add the cooled vegetables and the pasta to the bowl, combine everything together, then taste and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper, lemon juice). sprinkle the remaining basil over the top and mix the salad again only just before serving. if the salad seems dry, add a little more pesto sauce and olive oil.

my avocado-tomato-lime salad
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