Garden Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives

pesto pasta salad dish

Going nowhere all summer long can have some perks.  If you have a garden, you don’t miss out on all the bounty appearing each day.  If you don’t have your own garden, you can forage for berries or pick them at a farm.  And perhaps you might win the garden lottery, and be asked to tend a friend’s garden while they are away, which is what is happening to us this week.

I was thrilled to have enough garden fresh produce to make pesto sauce again.  The basil picked from the garden smelled heavenly and was still the main flavour of the sauce, even though I added spinach for more volume.  Armed with a rubber spatula and a helping of patience, even my pedestrian blender was coaxed into making a fine, smooth pesto sauce that offered may possibilities.  I finally settled on using it in pasta salad for lunch, which was one of many right choices I could have made.  We enjoyed the pasta salad even more by eating it al fresco, on our shaded deck.

Should you have any pesto sauce leftover, why not make some pesto olive bread twists?  I’d also love to make a double batch of pesto and then freeze a portion. Freezing pesto makes it possible to indulge later in the season, when the growing season is winding down for fall.  Then all that is needed is to thaw, stir, and enjoy.

pesto pasta salad with olives

Recipe for Garden Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives

For the Dairy Free Basil Spinach Pesto:

  • large handful of fresh spinach leaves
  • large handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped walnuts, pepitas, or almond butter
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise or Vegenaise, optional

To make the pesto sauce:

Combine all the desired ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Process until smooth, adding small amounts of water and scraping the sides of the container as needed.

For the Pasta Salad:

  • whole wheat, spelt, or gluten free pasta–cooked, rinsed, and drained
  • black olives
  • artichoke hearts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • dairy free spinach basil pesto sauce (above) or cilantro pesto sauce
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional
  • fresh tomato, diced, optional
  • fresh Swiss chard leaves, thinly chopped, optional
  • green onion, chopped, optional
  • Parmesan Regianno cheese, finely grated, optional
  • turkey or ham slices, diced, optional

To make the pasta salad:

  1. In a large bowl, toss pasta with pesto sauce until pasta is evenly coated.
  2. Add olives and artichoke hearts.  Toss to incorporate.
  3. For the optional ingredients, you can serve the basic pasta salad and place the other ingredients in small dishes for people to add according to their preferences.  Or you may toss the additional ingredients into the salad before serving.

I’m sharing this at Pennywise Platter, Inspiration Spotlight, and Foodie Friday.

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