Pesto Pasta Salad
450g/1 lb bacon, cooked until crispy, drained, & chopped
450/1 lb orecchiette (or other small pasta)
450g/1 lb fresh asparagus (thin spears), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces with tough ends trimmed off
2 cups frozen field fare peas, cooked & drained
225g/8 oz mini fresh mozzarella balls (pearls), drained
1 to 1 1/2 cups (8 to 12 ounces) pesto (homemade or store-bought, fresh or jarred)
2 to 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 to 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil over a high heat. Add orecchiette and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, according to packet directions. 3 minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus pieces. Finish cooking when pasta is al dente and asparagus is blanched. Drain in a large colander and rinse until cool under cold water.
Transfer pasta and asparagus to a very large bowl; add peas and mozzarella pearls. Transfer pesto to a medium bowl and stir until smooth. Whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, to taste, and just enough extra-virgin olive oil to thin out the pesto to a dressing-like consistency. Pour the pesto dressing over the pasta salad ingredients, gently toss ingredients to combine and coat, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Just before serving, stir in the bacon, reserving a bit to sprinkle over the top for garnish.