Summer Pasta Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

Wagon wheels, cavatappi, spirals, campanelle – Ohhhh, shapes!  These are things that run through my head in the pasta aisle.  Other adults experience this phenomenon too… right???

In keeping with the options theme, this pasta salad has it all – fun shapes, bright summery produce, tangy and basily vinaigrette.  I love it!

I’ve made this pasta salad several time, and it’s always received high praise.  However, every time, except for this post, I neglect to read the part that says 1/2 pound of pasta.  Then, I have to go back and double the vinaigrette, and inevitably curse words flow from the kitchen.  Sorry, I’m only human.

The vinaigrette is so easy and would be perfect to keep around for roasted potatoes, corn, or naked macaroni.  The beans come out nice and tender and the cherry tomatoes add a zip that rounds the whole salad out.

I’d call it, a summery grand slam 🙂

Summer Pasta Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette


For the Vinaigrette

1-1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh, finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano

3 Tbs. red- or white-wine vinegar

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. finely chopped garlic

1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad

kosher salt

3/4 lb. green beans or wax beans (or a mix), trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths

1/2 lb. dried campanelle, cavatappi, or other short, chunky pasta shape

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

3 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup fresh, finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Freshly ground pepper


Make the vinaigrette:

Put the basil, olive oil, Parmigiano, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the salad:

Put 4 to 6 quarts of salted water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Drop the green beans and/or wax beans into the boiling water and cook until the beans are just crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the beans from the water with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain and cool.  Gently blot the beans dry.

Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook just until al dente, following package instructions. Drain the pasta thoroughly by shaking it in a colander and immediately pouring it out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the pasta with the olive oil to prevent sticking.

Transfer the cooled pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the beans, and cherry tomatoes and toss. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten the pasta, taking care not to overdress it (you may not need it all). Add the pine nuts and toss again. Let the salad rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and then taste the salad again.  Top with Parmigiano Reggiano and serve as soon as possible.

Slightly adapted from Fine Cooking

3 thoughts on “Summer Pasta Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

      • Perfect timing. We just finished eating this great dish and it was fab! Thanks. Didn’t have time to take a photo but I am going to make it again this week. We got fresh basil from the farm this morning and couldn’t eat the pasta fast enough!

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