The proper thing to bring to a potluck…

Ok, truth time, I didn’t just bring Sangria to the potluck. I didn’t want to look like a complete boozebag, so, I also brought Ina Garten’s Pesto, Pasta and Pea Salad. It is always a hit and makes a lot. I made a few changes to the recipe, just for convenience, however, Ina’s recipe is fabulous on it’s own. 

I love Ina. I think anybody learning to cook should pick up at least one of her cookbooks. Her recipes are simple and delicious. I have never made anything from her cookbooks that has disappointed (some will say that she uses a bit too much salt, so, just be careful there…). I always know I can trust her recipes. She tests the heck out of them and our palates seem to be a match.

Plus, her husband, Jeffery, is about the cutest man on the planet. They adore each other so much, and it just puts a big grin to my face every time I see them together. It is my dream to cook with her one day. She has been such an inspiration to me, she has taken risks and worked hard to build her business, all the while, pursuing her passion.

I’ll stop with my lovefest. For now. On to the recipe!

First, you’ll need two pounds of pasta – the recipe calls for two types, bow-tie and fusilli. The two just give a little contrast and pep up the salad a bit. Use your judgment – if you only want to use one kind of pasta, go for it. 

dry pasta

I cook them separately, in well-salted, oiled water, to ensure even cooking. If you have time, you can dump the first round of water and boil a new batch of water for the second pasta. However, don’t sweat it if you are rushed for time. Just re-boil the water and cook pasta number two. I’ve done it both ways, and can’t tell the difference – and no one died. Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl and toss with some olive oil to keep it from sticking.


While you are cooking the pasta, prepare the dressing. You’ll need pesto (I used pre-made, but this would be even better with fresh pesto),  pine nuts, frozen (defrosted) peas, frozen spinach (defrosted and drained), lemons, mayonnaise, and parmesan cheese.

In a food processor, combine the spinach, pesto, and lemon juice. Puree together. Next, mix in the mayonnaise.

mixer mayo

Pre-heat a dry pan over medium heat, and toast the pine nuts until golden brown. Make sure the pan is big enough for the pine nuts to lay in a single layer.

 pine nuts

Once the pasta has cooled, combine the pesto dressing, peas, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix until all is evenly combined.

final salad

That’s it! You’re done. Now, go sneak a glass of sangria.

Lots of love, Carrie

Pasta, Pesto and Peas
Serves 15
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
36 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
36 min
  1. 1 pound fusilli pasta
  2. 1 pound bow tie pasta
  3. 1/4 cup good olive oil
  4. 1 3/4 cups pesto (packaged or homemade)
  5. 1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  6. 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  7. 1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise
  8. 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  9. 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
  10. 1/3 cup pine nuts
  11. 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  12. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to packages, separately, in well-oiled, salted water. Set pasta aside in a large bowl and toss with some olive oil.
  2. In a food processor, puree the spinach, pesto, and lemon juice. Add the mayonnaise and mix well.
  3. Pre-heat a dry pan to medium heat and toast the pine nuts in a single layer until golden brown.
  4. Combine pesto mixture, salt, pepper, parmesan, peas, and pine nuts with the cooled pasta. Stir until well combined. Season to taste.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Good at Everything
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  1. Carrie, I just love your new blog! I’ve already added two of your recipes (if that is 100% of what you’ve posted, then I think you can call me a true fan?) to my ZipList. Thanks! I have a party coming up on Saturday and I just might make them both if I can get myself organized and to the store before then.

    Keep ’em comin’!


    • Thanks so much, Adriane!! I hope the recipes work out. Be sure to come back and give feedback – would love to know how they go. Have fun on Saturday!

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