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Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe - A Very Easy and Tasty First Course

Updated on January 30, 2010

Here’s a very easy pasta salad recipe that’s reminiscent of a good pasta with pesto sauce. This salad is easy to make, and like most pasta salads, can be made in advance - which makes it perfect for entertaining.

This recipe, originally, comes from Joel Robuchon, a chef with more Michelin stars than any other – I have modified it slightly to suit my tastes.

Easy Basil Pasta Salad

  • 1 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 5 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • A couple generous handfuls of basil leaves (1/4 lb)
  • ½ pound of spaghetti (or other long noodle pasta, as you like)
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts (Omit this if you don’t have any and the recipe will still be great – These do add a nice textural contrast though.)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Add the 1 Tbls of vegetable oil to the salted water you’ll use to cook the pasta and then cook the pasta until done. Now normally, adding oil to the pasta water is a giant no-no, as it coats the noodles and hinders the sauce from sticking and getting absorbed into the noodle. For this recipe, this is what we want to happen, to keep the dressing a little looser and to keep the pasta from sticking and clumping together as it sits in the fridge. To further accomplish this, rinse the pasta off in cold water after cooking, to rinse off any starch and to cool the noodles down.
  2. Add the basil leaves, the olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and the lemon juice to a blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Toss the pasta with the sauce and taste – and then add more salt until it’s right.
  4. Let this sit in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it
  5. When you’re ready to serve this, heat a little dry fry pan without over medium and toss in the pine nuts - Cook them, stirring, until they’re fragrant, warmed through and a little toasty browned and then immediately take them off the heat. These can burn, so you have to watch them closely! Toasting the nuts brings out a lot more flavor, and the warm crunchy pine nuts contrast really nicely with the cold salad

  6. This amount makes enough for about 4 appetizer sized plates of pasta salad. After plating the pasta, crack a little black pepper over the top, sprinkle on the pine nuts over the four plates and then finish with a slight grating of parmesan cheese.

Easy and very good.


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    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 8 years ago

      Hi Coffeesnob,

      Pinenuts are the classic flavor match, but i think that shelled sunflower seeds would also work well.

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 8 years ago from Holly, MI

      This sounds delicious!! I am saving this for later! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      coffeesnob 8 years ago

      this looks really good - going to try it. Is there substitute for pine nuts that will provide the texture?