Salads aren’t typically my go-to dinner! I have to admit that sometimes I am underwhelmed by salads. I think that salads can sometimes be very simple, with too much salad dressing and not enough fillers. Usually, I stick with salads before the meal and that’s about it.
However, this Pesto Pasta Salad might just change my mind on salads.
This salad is loaded up with flavor! I add baby spinach, peas, chickpeas, herbs, slivered almonds, and of course, pasta! Pasta? In a salad? Oh yes! I stand by the life philosophy that anything is better if you add pasta to it and this salad is no exception!
The pasta adds a more filling note to this salad, so you can feel fuller afterward but still get the nutritional balance of eating a salad! I used regular pasta, but you could definitely use a gluten alternative pasta if you really wanted to stay healthy with this pasta! I’ve heard of a red lentil pasta that would be absolutely scrumptious in this salad!
The next best thing about this salad is the dressing! I always try to keep a jar of pesto in the pantry at all times! Pesto has such a nutty, herbilicious flavor that goes with just about anything! You can add pesto to plain ole pasta, add a finishing touch to soups, drizzle over salads, top some crostini, the options are limitless! You can find a ton of really good quality of pestos in the store, but making it yourself is just as easy!
Pesto typically follows a similar outline but you can substitute pretty much every aspect of pesto to fit what’s in your pantry! Traditional pesto is basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon, and parmesan. Today, I’m using up a lot of leftover ingredients that I had in my pantry, so I’ll be using cilantro, parsley, garlic, lemon, slivered almonds, and olive oil! Because I’m using this as a salad dressing, I’m using a little bit more olive oil and adding a splash of pasta water to thin out the dressing!
1 1/2 cup of frozen peas
2 1/2 cups of pasta
2 cups of baby spinach
1 can of chickpeas drained
1 handful of slivered almonds
1/4 cup of parsley
1 cup of parsley
1 cup of cilantro
1/4 cup of slivered almonds
5 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of pasta water
Sprinkle of salt
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, (optional)
Begin by bringing a pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. When the pasta has about a minute left, add in the frozen peas. Drain the pasta and peas and set aside to cool slightly.
In a food processor, add in the cup of parsley, a cup of cilantro, slivered almonds, garlic, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing. After all the olive oil has been added in, add the lemon juice and the pasta water!
In a large bowl, add the pasta, peas, and baby spinach. The slightly warm pasta will slightly cook the spinach and help it soften slightly. Top the salad with the rest of the herbs, chickpeas, and almonds. Add a light drizzle of the pesto over the salad! Stir to combine!
Your Pesto Pasta Salad is ready to be eaten!
Seriously, I love this salad so much! I love the contrast between the pasta and the greens with the snappy sweetness of the peas! If you’ve never added herbs to a salad, you need to try it! It adds such a layer of sophistication and flavor that you won’t get just from the dressing! If you think that salads just aren’t for you, think again, because this salad might just change your mind…