Pasta Salad with Pesto

From Cooking Illustrated. Best served at room temperature.

3/4 c pine nuts

2 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 lb farfalle (bow tie) pasta

1/4 c plus 1 tbsp EVOO

3 c packed fresh basil leaves

1 c packed baby spinach

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp juice from 1 lemon

1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra for serving

6 tbsp mayonnaise

1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered, or grape tomatoes, halved (optional)

1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large pot. Toast pine nuts in small dry skillet over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until just golden and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. When water is boiling, add garlic and let cook 1 minute. Remove garlic with slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to stop cooking; set aside to cool. Add 1 tbsp salt and pasta to water, stir to separate, and cook until tender. Reserve 1/4 c cooking water, drain pasta, toss with 1 tbsp oil, spread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

3. When garlic is cool, peel and mince or press. Place 1/4 c nuts, garlic, basil, spinach, pepper, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 c oil, and 1 tsp salt in bowl of food processor and process until smooth, scraping side of bowl as needed. Add cheese and mayonnaise and process until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to large serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.

4. When pasta is cool, toss with pesto, adding reserved pasta water, 1 tbsp at a time, until pesto evenly coats pasta. Fold in remaining 1/2 c nuts and tomatoes. Serve.


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