Zesty Pesto Pasta Salad

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When I was a teenager, my family decided to change their diet, dramatically.  We cut out all dairy, eggs, meat, refined sugars, white flour and regular salt.

This left my mom with a dilemma: “What DO I feed my husband and four children (three of which were teens) that they will actually eat?”

Mom started using us as her guinea pigs and she kept us from starvation.  I don’t adhere to that strict diet any longer because, let’s face it, fake Bacon is not Bacon.  Also: Turkey Bacon is not Bacon, either–just because the label says “Bacon”, it does not make it Bacon.  I do still find myself going back to some of her recipes, though, because they’re just so damn tasty.  They also bring back some amazing memories.  Zesty Pesto Pasta Salad is one of my favorite recipes from my mother’s self-published cookbook, “Honeymoon Kitchen’s Culinary Extravaganza of Vegetarian Delights”.


I am going to a friend’s home with my Person and we’re going to hike, enjoy the lake and have dinner on the deck today.  I tweaked this recipe and used brown rice pasta to make it gluten free so that my friend could enjoy it as well.  I left out the olives simply because I don’t like them (I’ve yet to meet an olive that I actually like).  I try to add as much color and veggies into my salad because I love the taste and the crunch of fresh veggies.  Feel free to improvise and add your own veggie combinations.


This recipe does call for a certain type of dressing and you can certainly use your own dressing if you’d like, but this is the dressing that makes this salad unique.  Because of this dressing, my friends always request this salad when there are get togethers.  The credit goes to my father for coming up with this dressing recipe, many years ago.  I use it on my salads, as a marinade, in guacamole, on baked potatoes and many other things. As well as being so versatile, it’s extremely healthy for you; no preservatives or refined sugars and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand, in your pantry.

Zesty Pesto Pasta Salad:

  • 1 Pound Rotini Pasta (I used a brown rice pasta to make this gluten free)
  • 1 Cup Sweet & Sour Dressing (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup Pesto
  • 1/4 cup Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 cup yellow, orange, or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 cup Broccoli, chopped (optional)
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.  Rinse in cold water and drain.
  2. Mix dressing and pesto together and mix into pasta.
  3. Fold in remaining veggies.

serves six to eight

Sweet & Sour Dressing

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning.
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well.
  2. Store at room temperature for up to two weeks.  It will store longer in your fridge but keep in mind that oil will solidify a bit.
  3. Shake well before using.

Makes three cups

I made sure to “quality control test” this salad after it was made.  The verdict: Delicious!


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