Hearty Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 pound corkscrew pasta (or any shaped pasta)

2 cups packed basil, rinsed and patted dry

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

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2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 15 ounce can garbanzo or kidney beans, rinsed and well drained

½ pound feta cheese, crumbled

1 handful basil leaves, rolled and cutinto ribbons for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pot with water and set on the stove to boil.  Add pasta and cook 6-7 minutes, or until just tender.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water.  Let pasta drain once again and place it in a large serving bowl.  Toss pasta with 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil.  Set aside.

Combine basil, oil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, vinegar, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor or blender. Process mixture until smooth.  

Add vinaigrette to pasta and toss until sauce is evenly distributed.  Add tomatoes, beans, and feta cheese and toss lightly to combine.  Taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed. 

Sprinkle salad with basil ribbons and pass extra Parmesan cheese.

Note: Cubed grilled boneless chicken breast may be substituted for the beans.

Makes 6-8 main-course servings.

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