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Food Network Favorites: Bow Ties with Pesto, Feta & Cherry Tomatoes

A quick and easy pasta salad from Dave Lieberman. The yield seemed a bit squirrelly, again, but other than that, there's not much to say about this recipe.

I do have to wonder if an entire 2-page spread devoted to this dish was really the best use of space in Food Network Favorites. Perhaps I'm not the audience that this book is aimed at, but I think it's kind of overkill. Is pasta salad so exotic that people need detailed instructions for it? Especially one as simple as this one? In a book like Jacques P├ępin's Fast Food My Way , this pasta salad idea would be part of the quick recipe ideas that are listed in a couple of pages at the beginning of the book, and would read something like, "Cook about 1 pound dry farfalle. Drain well, then toss with fresh pesto, feta cheese, and halved cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature." A detailed step-by-step recipe is...not really necessary, is all I'm saying. But here it is, nevertheless...

Lieberman says this recipe yields 4 to 6 servings. Those are pretty hearty servings, given that you're starting off with a pound of dry pasta. I'd say the yield is closer to 8 servings.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 pound bow tie pasta (farfalle)
3/4 cup Pesto (recipe below)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, as needed

5 big handfuls basil leaves (about 2 hefty bunches)
1/2 cup pine nuts or 3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, peeled
About 20 grinds black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
(Yields about 1 1/2 cups)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, then drain well and run under cool water until it stops steaming. Shake to remove as much water as possible.

Dump the pasta into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the 3/4 cup pesto until the pasta is well coated. Add the tomatoes and feta and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If making ahead, cover and keep at room temperature for up to 1 hour, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. Bring salad up to room temperature before serving. If it looks dry, toss with a bit of olive oil before serving.

For the pesto: Combine basil, nuts, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper in a blender with 1/2 cup of olive oil. Blend well. With motor running, drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until pesto is thick and smooth. Leftover pesto should be stored in a container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.



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