The tastiest pesto pasta salad around! Here fusilli is tossed in a rich hazelnut pesto & served with tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, peppery rocket & crumbled feta. Plus there’s a sprinkling of chilli flakes & a drizzle of olive oil.
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The pesto that we are using for this pasta salad is a bit different to the regular stuff. For a stronger, nuttier flavour we’re using roasted hazelnuts instead of pine nuts and for an extra flavour boost, we’re also using a good handful of rocket along with the fresh basil.
That being said, if you’d prefer to use a pine nut pesto then feel free! The salad will turn out great either way.
Because of its’ spirally corkscrew shape, fusilli does a fantastic job of catching every last bit of pesto. This makes it the perfect shape for our pasta salad.
When it comes to boiling the pasta , we’re going to be cooking it slightly more than al dente. Adding an extra minute or two onto the pasta’s cooking time, stops it going hard & chewy as it cools. Make sure not to cook it too much though, as the pasta will go soft & mushy!
To cut through the richness of our pasta salad & to add a creamy texture, we’re crumbling some feta over the top. The salty, tangy flavour works incredibly well with the pesto & all of the other salad ingredients.
If your not a fan of feta, I’d go for some torn mozzarella, bocconcini or even a burrata.
How To Make Pesto Pasta Salad
Pesto pasta salads are quick & easy to make. Here’s the process…
- Blitz all of the pesto ingredients in a food processor until smooth then set aside.
- Boil the pasta in salted water until cooked slightly more than al dente.
- Refresh pasta under cold water.
- In a bowl, combine the cold pasta & pesto then stir in tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, rocket & a glug of olive oil.
- Season with salt & pepper then portion into bowls.
- Top with crumbled feta, chilli flakes, black pepper & a drizzle of olive oil then serve.
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Hazelnut Pesto Pasta Salad
- Food Processor/Jug Blender
- Large Saucepan
- Large Mixing Bowl
- 50 g Hazelnuts
- 30 g Rocket Washed
- 25 g Fresh Basil
- 10 g Grated Parmesan
- 2 Cloves Of Garlic
- 1 Lemon Juiced
- 120 g Olive Oil
- 350 g Fusilli
- 200 g Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 Red Onion
- 100 g Rocket Washed
- 100 g Feta
- Chilli Flakes
- Olive Oil
- First up, the pesto.Preheat an oven to 200°c/180°c fan (390°f/360°f).Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray & roast for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to cool then peel off any skins.
- Next, place the rocket, basil (don’t worry about picking the leaves, throw the stalks in as well!), parmesan, garlic, lemon juice & hazelnuts into a food processor or jug blender .Add in the olive oil, season with salt & pepper then blitz until smooth, scraping the sides down occasionally with a rubber spatula.Once blitzed, transfer the pesto to a large mixing bowl & set aside.
- The Salad.Bring a pan of water to the boil over a high heat then season generously with salt. Add in the pasta & cook at a rolling boil until cooked slightly more than al dente, roughly 10 minutes.Refresh the pasta under cold water then once cool, drain in a colander.
- Add the pasta into the mixing bowl & mix until completely coated in pesto.
- Half the cherry tomatoes & thinly slice the red onion. Add this to the pasta along with the rocket. Season with salt & pepper, mix gently then divide equally between bowls.
- Crumble feta over each bowl of pasta then sprinkle over some chilli flakes & season with black pepper. Drizzle over some olive oil then serve.
Use the boiling plate to cook the pasta as above. If you wanted to make this salad in advance, leave the rocket & feta out & add these in just before serving. Kept in the fridge, this will last for 2-3 days but is best eaten fresh. Pasta tends to firm up slightly as it cools. By cooking it slightly more than al dente, we avoid hard pasta.