Pesto & Pea Pasta Salad

May 28, 2013

A pesto pasta salad is the perfect picnic dish but I always hate how after a couple hours the basil turns an unappealing brown-ish green. I’ve tried a few tricks at keeping pesto green, but the two that have worked best are 1) tossing room temperature pasta with the pesto and 2) adding spinach in the pesto. A handful of spinach keeps the pesto vibrant and green but does not detract from the basil flavor. In fact, I doubt anyone can tell there is spinach in the recipe! I added peas because fresh peas seem to be everywhere lately and I love the combination of orecchiette and peas. The dill and mint add even more freshness and brightness to the pasta. Finally, I add one of my favorite cheeses, French feta, which is creamier and milder than Greek feta.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto pasta salad

Pesto pasta salad 1

Pesto pasta salad 2

pesto pasta salad

Pesto & Pea Pasta Salad

A spring pasta salad of pesto and peas.
Servings: 6 servings



  1. Cook the pasta according to ingredients on the box with well salted pasta water. Drain the pasta and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Allow the pasta to cool entirely.
  2. To prep the peas, prepare a bowl of water with ice water. Then cook the peas in boiling water for about 10 minutes and drain the peas and place the in the ice water for several minutes, then drain.
  3. To prepare the pesto, place the garlic clove in a food processer and mince. Add the spinach and basil and pine nuts and pulse several times. Stream in the oil while leaving the food processer on until it blends into a smooth pesto.
  4. Toss the pesto with the pasta and add peas, torn dill and mint and combine. Crumble French feta over the salad.

(images by HonestlyYUM)


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Looks and sounds delicious! Would never have thought to try something like this as a cold salad, but looks wonderfully tasty.

This sounds so delicious, fresh, and simple…what more could you ask for?!

There must be something about late spring that brings pesto to mind. I made a pasta very similar to this (no feta and I used edamame) last night for dinner. I am going to try putting spinach in my pesto next time. It’s a great idea.

I’m not sure how to keep it from turning dark green once served, but if you make a lot of pesto and want it to keep its vibrant green color in the fridge the secret is to top it of with a layer of olive oil every time it gets used. I make pesto out of homegrown basil a couple of times a year and it lasts for weeks in the fridge without losing its bright green hue.

Orecchiette means “little ears,” I always thought that was so cute + this looks scrumptious.

This looks delicious! I’m with you on the pesto color changing thing…not so fun when it goes from that lovely green to something less appetizing. Thanks for the spinach tip! I will certainly give that a try next time! I also find that arugula stays a nice green color as well.

Pesto has to be one of my favorite sauces. It is not only good for pasta but also as a condiment on a sandwich or a spread for a crostini.
You just can’t go wrong. I will definitely be using this recipe soon!
xo Quinn

Quinn Cooper Style

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