From Cook's Illustrated
This salad is best served the day it is made; if it's been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before serving. The pesto can be made a day ahead--just cook the garlic cloves in a small saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Garnish with additional shaved or grated Parmesan.
Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish
3/4 cup pine nuts
2 medium cloves garlic , unpeeled
1 pound farfalle (bow ties) pasta*
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1 additional tablespoon
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (about 4 ounces)
1 cup baby spinach (packed), about 1 ounce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 pint cherry tomatoes , quartered, or grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
*My preference is just plain old linguine or maybe bucatini!
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 tablespoon salt and pasta to water, stir to separate, and cook until tender (just past al dente). Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, drain pasta, toss with 1 tablespoon 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 through garlic press. Place 1/4 cup nuts, garlic, basil, spinach, pepper, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl of food processor and process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. 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 tablespoon at a time, until pesto evenly coats pasta. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup nuts and tomatoes (if using); serve.
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