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Spice up your picnic pasta salad with this Jalapeño Pesto Pasta Salad from former culinary team member Grant Melton.

For more pasta salad recipes from Grant, try his Lemon Poppy Pasta Salad or his Tomato + Mozzarella Pasta Salad.


  • 4 serrano or jalapeño peppers
  • 1 pound bowtie pasta
  • 2 cups chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 red onion, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave
  • Salt and pepper


Serves: 6


Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bowtie paste and cook until al dente.

Cut the serrano peppers in half lengthwise then place them on a hot grill or under the broiler to char them a bit. Remove and place in a food processor bowl and let cool. Once cool, add the cilantro, red onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest and juice. Purée until smooth. Add in the parmesan, peanuts and honey, and purée a little longer, but not to completely smooth.

Immediately add the pesto to a large mixing bowl with the warm pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Salad can be made up to two days in advance.