Southwest Pesto Pasta


A group of my friends were having a July 4th beach day and I decided this was the time for Leila to meet the Chicago lakefront.  In my mind I pictured a shady spot in the grass where I could spread out my America blanket and enjoy some snacks.  I packed up a little picnic… including enough southwest pesto pasta for everyone and took the long, traffic filled drive to the lake.  After some serious effort to find parking I walked with Leila to the beach feeling triumphant that, despite having a baby, I could still join my crew on the lake.  As soon as I got there I was greeted by blazing heat, no shade, a raging beach party and complete panic that Leila was overheating.  After 10 minutes of trying to find my friends anxiety got the best of me and I decided to get back in the car and turn right around… back to AC and an obscene amount of pasta.  So…. total parent fail but I can say with confidence (since I ate a bucket of it) that this pasta is delicious.  It’s the type of pasta that comes together super quick… can mostly be made in advance (just cook the pasta and toss all the prepped ingredients together when ready) and can be eaten hot or at room temp.  Even if you make infinity more than you need it will be delicious no matter where you eat it… I recommend the indoors, with AC, snugging a cute baby.


You’ll need:

  • 2 bunches fresh basil
  • Half of a jalapeno (seeds removed- it won’t have much heat)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2-2/3 cup olive oil
  • 0.5 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino
  • 1/3 cup nuts (I did a mix of almonds and pistachio)
  • Salt/pep to taste
  • 1 ear of corn, kernels removed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cojita or feta cheese
  • 2 lbs pasta, cooked in boiling salted water to al dente according to package instructions



To Make:

  1. In a food processor combine basil, jalapeno, garlic, nuts and pinch salt/pep.  With processor running drizzle in ½ cup of olive oil.   Stir in parmesan.   If it needs to be thinned out add more olive oil.
  2. Toss pasta and pesto together like you mean it in a large bowl.  Stir in corn, beans, tomatoes and feta.  Serve warm or at room temperature.



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