Pasta Salad with Pesto-Lemon Dressing

The Husband finished building the new barbecue (photos here) a few weeks ago, so we’ve been doing a lot of grilling recently.  Which means I’ve been scouring my files for new side dish recipes.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I love a good barbecue as much as the next gal, but it’s the side dishes on the table that usually pique my interest.

So with the plan to grill some burgers last weekend, I went on the hunt for a good side dish to serve with them.  Maybe you’re like me and have recipes stashed away all over the place, but I have them on my computer and in my desk and flagged in my cookbooks and stuck in my purse and in the basket on top of my desk, and well, you get the idea… it’s easy to lose track of them.  Anyway, by chance I found this one in one of those places hopping up and down shouting “pick me! pick me!”,  so I did.

And am I ever glad.  Wow, was this good.  Pasta salads can be a little on the, shall we say, bland side, but not this one.  No sir, between the basil pesto and the lemon and those sweet little grape tomatoes and the ricotta salata cheese, there really is a ton of flavor in here.  So good.  My garden is producing green beans like crazy right now so I blanched some and added them in, and, man, they were great in there, and I would highly recommend that addition.  But it really is the lemon that makes this one special and elevates it from ordinary to, well, scrumptious.

Yes, scrumptious this one is.  The burgers were awesome, but this pretty little salad really did steal the show.  Here’s the recipe…

Pasta Salad with Pesto-Lemon Dressing

Click here for a printable recipe

I didn’t use the entire cup of pesto called for here, so just add however much you feel looks (and tastes) right.  And depending on the juiciness of your lemon, it may take more than one.  The addition of the fresh green beans was so good.  I highly recommend it.

Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

1 pound cavatappi, corkscrew or penne pasta

Coarse salt

½ lb fresh green beans

1 cup prepared pesto sauce (home-made or store-bought from the refrigerated case)

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

4 scallions, chopped

3/4 pound ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

Black pepper

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil for the pasta.

Meanwhile, bring a smaller pan of salted water to a boil.  Cut the green beans into 2” pieces and add to the boiling, salted water for 1 ½ minutes (no longer!).  Drain the beans and add them immediately to a bowl of ice water.  Once they’re chilled, place them on a paper towel and set aside.

While the pasta cooks, place the pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, green beans, tomatoes, scallions and cheese in a large bowl.

Cook pasta to al dente then run it under cold running water until cool to the touch. Drain well.  Add to the mixing bowl and combine well.   Season with salt and pepper to taste.