Spicy Pesto Pasta Salad

(from castro15’s recipe box)

Categories: Sides


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Zest of 1 lemon (removed in wide strips), plus juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 lb. penne
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping


  1. Make the pesto: Combine the olive oil, red pepper flakes, 1 garlic clove, and the lemon zest in a saucepan. Cook over very low heat until the garlic is tender, 30-40 minutes. Strain the oil.

  2. Pulse the pine nuts, basil, arugula, Parmesan, remaining 3 garlic cloves, and the lemon juice in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the flavored garlic oil and pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Make the pasta salad: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed for al dente, adding the peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Toss with the pesto, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and reserved cooking water. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

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