It's easy because, you guessed it, I used a jar of Red Pesto! Sometimes life does call for convenience and there is nothing wrong with popping a lid every once in a while. This pasta salad was put together from start to finish in just 15 minutes. That makes it a worthy summer salad in my books. Cook pasta, chop veggies and add the jar. Done!
The other day when I was putting this together, I realized I never ever make pasta salads. In fact, to the point where out of almost 80 salads and side dishes on the blog, a mere one is a pasta salad. Yes, just one and that is kind of sad don't you think?
At the beginning of this summer I set out a challenge in my mind to make more pasta salads and I have failed myself miserably. Now summer is on it's last legs and I am starting to have thoughts of warming oven dishes, cocoa and log fires. Not sure why though with the temps soaring beyond 30 every day. But there you have it, my mind wanders.
In any case I had a mission to recreate a salad that I used to devour the summer of 1993. I have this way of remembering tastes and smells more than anything else. They say (I don't know who they are), that smell is the most poignant of memories. Umm. I still remember custard cones from the 1970s and how not one ice cream since could live up to those expectations. By the way a custard cone is a soft serve ice cream. Not custard on a cone. Just in case I am the only person that knows that. That place was called Nicky's Nook in the Clarenville Shopping Centre. We would go there on Sunday afternoons from time to time. Our ice cream was served through a wicket. I still call tiny windows with hatches wickets. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It's a pub now and not a custard cone in sight.
But I was talking about pasta salads. Flash forward to the 90s and I was living in down town St. John's. There was a deli down the hill from where I lived. I don't remember the name of that place, but I sure do remember the macaroni salad. That summer, along with seeing Def Leppard for the first time, I probably ate my weight in those salads. I remember them coming in a small disposable plastic box. They were almost five bucks each. I considered it an extravagance living off my Jean's Experts wages, but bought it anyway. Time after time after time. It was short cut macaroni, with small chunks of ham & cheese. There were pieces of celery and onion and then mayonnaise. I don't even like mayonnaise. But I loved those salads.
Never in my life have I tried to recreate that salad. I had the thought, but passed on it knowing I would not live down the disappointment of failure.
Putting all the nostalgia aside, I did make this pasta salad the other day. In my kitchen in 2017 and it tasted like the present not the past.
So why not make your own red pesto right? Well, I do from time to time. But it just so happened the other day I had a jar in the pantry. So a jar it was.
If you have never had red pesto, it is delicious. It's usually made using sun dried tomatoes, parmesan, garlic, pine nuts, basil and olive oil. That is a basic recipe, but you get many variations. When I make it, those are the only ingredients I use. If you do a search, a million varieties will come up. Now that I have talked about this, I realize I am going to have to write a recipe soon for this pesto. Coming up!
In the meantime, this was quite a tasty salad. It might seem like celery doesn't belong here, but it made it in my books. Now I can say I have two pasta salads on the blog. Will I ever make that macaroni salad? Stay tuned.
Red Pesto Pasta Salad
Serves 4 / Prep time: 5 minutes / Cook time: 8 minutes
8 oz Penne pasta, uncooked
1/2 Cup/120 grams red pesto
1 small red onion, diced
2 Celery ribs, end trimmed, cut in half lengthways then chopped
1/2 Red pepper, diced
1/2 Green pepper, diced
1/2 Yellow pepper, diced
2 Tomatoes, de seeded and chopped
1/2 Cup/50 grams parmesan cheese, finely grated
Small bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes. Remove and drain. Rinse in cold water and drain until no more water comes out of the pasta. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add the red pesto and stir well. Add all the vegetables and stir until combined well. Stir in parmesan cheese and fresh basil, reserving a small amount of each for garnish. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Can be served cold or at room temperature.
Click the downloadable link below to print recipe!
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Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Julia and I have a passion for wholesome fresh food. Here you can find what's cooking in my Spanish kitchen, with inspiration from my Newfoundland roots!
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