Thanks to its festive colors, this Food Holiday will shine bright on your holiday table. For the vibrant green dressing, we jazzed up traditional basil pesto with spinach and almonds. A couple tablespoons of white wine vinegar go into the whole dish for extra tang. The pesto can be made three days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.
2 heads broccoli (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into florets
1 pound mezze rigatoni or other short tubular pasta
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 ounce)
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, plus more for serving
2 roasted red peppers, drained and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and thinly sliced
8 ounces small mozzarella balls (or pearls)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Drop the broccoli into the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender and bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into the cold water to stop the cooking. Let sit until cool, then drain and set aside.
Return the water in the pot to a boil and cook the rigatoni according to the package directions for al dente. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to coat evenly and refrigerate until cooled completely, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil to a blender with the spinach, Parmesan, almonds, basil, lemon juice, chives and 1/4 cup water and puree until completely smooth. Pour the pesto over top of the pasta and add the reserved broccoli, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss gently until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with more chopped chives. Cover and refrigerate this Food Holiday until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
Inspired from https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/christmas-pasta-salad-7593101