even picky eaters love this pesto pasta salad

Pesto Pasta with Pine Nuts

pesto pasta is a light and easy summer recipe

This pasta recipe is one of my favorite ways to use fresh basil from my garden. Fresh basil is a great source of nutrition with many positive health-promoting compounds. Many of these compounds in basil are lost during the drying process, so using it when it’s fresh is the healthiest. 

Antioxidants in fresh basil can help reduce oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like arthritis, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It’s also a great dietary source of vitamins K, A, and C, magnesium and calcium.

My preferred first step in this recipe is to make delicious homemade pesto from freshly harvested basil. I start with our Fresh Basil Pine Nut Pesto, which makes the most flavorful pesto using garlic, parmesan and pine nuts. Of course, if no fresh basil is at hand or you don’t have much time, using prepared pesto works very well, too.

My whole family loves this recipe--even the picky eaters who don’t like “green” foods. The toasted pine nuts with the pesto and parmesan is a perfect summery flavor combo. Any pasta shape can work, but we like to use bowtie because of the way it holds onto the pesto sauce and cheese.

I serve this dish warm or cold as a side with grilled chicken, but it can work as a main dish for a meatless meal also. We never have leftovers when we make this recipe!

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