This refreshing and hearty picnic-perfect vegan side is made with zesty cilantro pesto, pasta and black beans.
Happy extra long holiday weekend! Memorial Day snuck up on me this year, so I’m still working in some last minute blog posts dedicated to picnic fare for the coming holiday. I guess this is fortunate, as I’m betting quite a few of you guys are working on last minute menu planning.
I’ve been to plenty of summer barbecues where pasta salad was the only thing on the menu that I could eat (in addition to plenty where the pasta salad was packed with pepperoni and I had to go hungry). Pasta salad is fine and all, but it can get a bit repetitive, and it’s not always the most satisfying and balanced of dishes to make a meal out of. This version is a quite bit more substanital, owing to the addition of some black beans, and a bit more exciting, thanks to some cilantro pesto.
Is cilantro pesto a new thing for you? It’s not all that different from regular old basil pesto, but I find the cilantro gives it a more refreshing and slightly southwesterny vibe, which pairs great with the beans and heavy dose of lime juice I’ve included.
Cilantro Pesto Pasta & Black Bean Salad
For the Cilantro Pesto
- 3 cups fresh cilantro leaves about 1 medium bunch
- 1/2 cup shelled walnuts
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 tsp. salt
For the Pasta and Black Bean Salad
- 8 oz. dried rotini pasta
- 1-14 oz. can or 1 3/4 cup cooked black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 scallions chopped
Prepare the Cilantro Pesto
- Place all ingredients in food processor and blend to a paste, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
Prepare the Pasta and Black Bean Salad
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse with cool water. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in cilantro pesto and remaining ingredients. Season with additional lime juice or salt, if desired.