By Jess Kehoe, DPT
For a hot summer day this is a super easy, yummy pasta salad that requires minimal cooking. This would be a great side dish to bring to a summer BBQ or pot luck. If you want to add some protein power to make a more hearty main dish you can easily add grilled chicken or a can of chick peas.
3/4 cup pine nuts, or walnuts
15 drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. Chop up 5 of them separately.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb fusilli or pasta of your choice
1/4 lb spinach leaves, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Over moderately low heat, toast the nuts in a small frying pan, stirring frequently so as not to burn them, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. If using walnuts you can roughly chop them at this point.
In a blender or food processor (I used an immersion blender), put 1/4 of the nuts, the whole sun-dried tomatoes, the oil, the water, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Puree until smooth.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta as instructed on the packaging. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a large bowl toss the pasta with the remaining toasted nuts, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the pesto, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the spinach, the cherry tomatoes and Parmesan.
Serve warm or at room temperature.