Gnocchetti Pasta Salad with basil pesto, prawns and asparagus

A fresh prawn asparagus pasta salad with a hint of basil and a whole lot of taste.


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Few words about the general concept of pasta salad: in Italy we also call it ‘pasta fredda’ which means cold pasta and it’s basically a pasta dish that is meant to be eaten cold. Pasta salad is very common especially in summer; you don’t want to be eating a red hot dish when it’s 35 degrees outside :P.


I had pasta salad few times in England and I have to say that I won’t be repeating this mistake. That’s because most people just get basic things wrong with this dish. Pasta salad is a very very simple dish and as with all the simple dishes there are just few little things you need to get just perfect but on the flip side if you get just one little thing wrong you are going to mess the whole thing up.  


Let’s start from the beginning. The first step is to boil in a pot the water and add a pinch of salt. When the water is boiling you can put the pasta in.


First common English mistake: some people put the pasta in the boiling water and just leave it there… NOOOOOOO!!! Absolutely wrong! The pasta will stick to bottom of the pot and it will get all gooey. A very simple way to handle the pasta is to start stirring straight away using a wooden spoon and keep stirring every 20-30 seconds.




The second common english mistake is to overcook the pasta. NOOOOO! Overcooked pasta (expecially if you are going to make a pasta salad) is absolutely horrible. When you make pasta salad you are going to allow the pasta to cool down, after being cooked and before refrigerating. During this time the pasta is still red hot and is basically still cooking. What I do when making pasta salad, I read the cooking time on the pasta box and I always cook it 1 or 2 minutes less than it says. I can’t tell you exactly how long to cook the pasta for because it depends on the brand and the type. Try and taste some about 2 minutes before the box cooking time, if it’s a bit hard but yet edible it’s fine.


Third and biggest common english mistake: many people cook the pasta, drain it and put it in a bowl and leave it there as it is…. OH NOOOO! It could be a disaster at this point! After you drain the pasta you have to transfer it in a large deep bowl and IMMEDIATELY pour some olive oil on it and stir. This is the most important step because if you don’t do that the pasta is going to stick together and be horrible and soft.


Gnocchetti Pasta Salad



Ok, now that you know the basics about pasta salad let’s talk about this recipe. In this recipe I have changed the last step: instead of olive oil, you are going to pour a tablespoon of basil pesto sauce (that in fact has got olive oil in it) in the red hot drained pasta and you are going to stir the pasta very well.


In the mean time you are going to cook very slowly the chopped asparagus with garlic (to taste) and a table spoon of olive oil in a large pan, when the asparagus are soft enough to be eaten you are going to add the prawns and stir fry for a couple of minutes more.


You are going to find this dish ideal for a picnic or for a buffet because you can prepare everything in advance and refrigerate. You can also cook it for dinner and then bring the leftover to work the day after (that’s why I always make a lot of it! I love leftover pasta salad!).


Gnocchetti Pasta Salad
Serves 2
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390 calories
67 g
106 g
3 g
24 g
1 g
199 g
480 g
3 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 390
Calories from Fat 22
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 106mg
Sodium 480mg
Total Carbohydrates 67g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 3g
Protein 24g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 170g pasta
  2. 100g prawns
  3. 1 table spoon of basil pesto sauce
  4. 1 table spoon of olive oil
  5. 8 asparagus
  6. 1 segment of garlic (optional)
  1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, drain it, transfer it to a bowl, immediately add a table spoon of basil pesto sauce and stir very well. Allow the pasta to cool down, stirring every few minutes. When it's pretty much cold, cover with cling film and refrigerate.
  2. Chop the asparagus and the garlic and stir fry in a large non stick pan.
  3. When the asparagus is soft, add the prawns and stir fry for few minutes more untill they are cooked.
  4. When everything is cold you can add the asparagus and prawns to the pasta, stir and refrigerate again.
Happy Cooking, Healthy Living

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