Spring Pasta Salad with Cilantro-Walnut Pesto

Spring Pasta Salad with Cilantro-Walnut Pesto

Enjoy this light, refreshing – and slightly different – pasta salad. It will look familiar, but taste surprising, in a very subtle way—try it hot or cold. Be sure to make the pesto well ahead of time for optimum flavor.

4
Servings
Deliver Ingredients

Ingredients

For the Pasta:

  • 8 Ounces pasta (fusilli or cavatappi
  • 4-6 Ounces fresh mozzarella, in small dice (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • minced carrot, cucumber, fennel (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/2 Cup cilantro-walnut pesto (recipe follows)
  • 1 Teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 8-10 snow peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 small red bell pepper, brunoise or very small dice
  • 1-2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For the Cilantro-Walnut Pesto

  • 1 Cup walnut halves
  • 1 Cup firmly packed cilantro (leaves and smaller stems)
  • chopped walnuts (OPTIONAL TOPPING)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • halved cherry tomatoes (OPTIONAL TOPPING)
  • minced fresh cilantro (OPTIONAL TOPPING)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon minced or crushed garlic

Directions

For the Pasta:

1)    Cook the pasta according the package instructions. Drain, then toss with olive oil, salt, 4 tablespoons of the pesto, and the vinegar. Stir to blend thoroughly, let it cool to room temperature.
2)    Stir in the vegetables, followed by the mozzarella and black pepper to taste.
3)    Serve warm or at room temperature – or chill, and serve cold. Top it with additional pesto, if you like, plus any of the other optional toppings.

For the Cilantro-Walnut Pesto

1)     Place the walnuts in a blender or the small bowl of a food processor, and grind to a coarse meal.
2)     Add the garlic, cilantro, and salt, and continue to run the machine until it becomes a uniform green paste (some light walnut texture is fine).
3)     Run the machine while you drizzle in the oil. Transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate until use.

Makes 1/2 cup

Pasta Salad Shopping Tip

Italian food is about simplicity and letting the ingredients shine. So make sure you get ingredients that are great quality and flavor. Farmers markets and specialty stores will have great produce and products. Just be sure to have some great olive oil.

Pasta Salad Cooking Tip

Unlike other highly regarded cuisines, Italian cooking is usually simple to make with many dishes having only 4 to 8 ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.