Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad

I mentioned yesterday how much I love to make pesto during the summer. It’s just so easy and flavorful. And, I think I failed to mention yesterday, that it doesn’t require turning on the oven… Or even the stove!

Since pesto itself does not make a meal, a few weeks ago I decided to use it to flavor a quick and easy pasta salad for dinner.  I was in one of those lazy summer moods where I wanted to do the least amount of cooking possible.  I’m sure you can relate, right?

One of my favorite summer dishes is a simple caprese salad. I used that as my inspiration for the salad, replacing the basil leaves with pesto made from some garlic scapes from our CSA and herbs from my garden. It added a bit more depth of flavor than traditional basil pesto… And, it resulted in a nice and easy dinner on a hot summer evening!

Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad
(Yields 4 dinner servings or 8 side dish servings)

For the pesto:

  • Handful of basil
  • 2 – 3 sprigs thyme, stems removed
  • 2 sprigs oregano, stems removed
  • 10 garlic scapes, trimmed and chopped into large pieces
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated grana padano cheese
  • Approximately 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch Kosher salt

To finish the salad:

  • 8 ounces mini farfalle pasta
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 ounces small bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls)

Start by preparing the the pesto. Combine the basil, thyme, and oregano leaves in a small food processor.  Add the garlic scapes, walnuts, and grana padano cheese.  Pulse until everything is roughly chopped. Gradually continue processing, while streaming in the olive oil, until the pesto is smooth.  Season to taste with the Kosher salt.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of the pesto and mix it with the pasta. Stir in the tomatoes and the bocconcini.

Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled.

11 Responses to Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad

  1. This looks amazing. Im working on changing my husband’s eating habits he grew up cautious eater and its been hard to break. Chilled salads are his biggest roadblock. Im working on him though. On my up next list. I also love that this is easy enough to prepare on cookie nights!

  2. Great idea! It looks delicious. I also like that you used walnuts instead of pine nuts. For some reason, I just can’t find pine nuts this year and I have a bounty of basil in my backyard.

  3. I have been using walnuts in my pesto vs. pine nuts for awhile and I really like the flavor more. I haven’t compared the price but I think walnuts might even be cheaper and easier to come by. Plus, youi don’t have to toast them first. I have made a similar salad and added chicken and it is delicious! I don’t have garlic scapes, but I have garlic chives I am going to try.