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.
- 8 ounces pasta (fusilli or cavatappi)
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Cilantro-Walnut Pesto (recipe follows)
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
- 1 red bell pepper, small, diced very small
- 8-10 snow peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
- 4-6 ounces mozzarella, fresh, in small dices
- Black pepper to taste
Additional minced vegetables: minced carrot, cucumber, and/or fennel
- 1 cup California walnut halves
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 cup cilantro (leaves and smaller stems), firmly packed
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Cilantro, fresh, minced
- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- California walnuts, chopped
- 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.
- Stir in the vegetables, followed by the mozzarella and black pepper to taste.
- 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.
Cilantro-Walnut Pesto (Makes 1/2 cup)
- Place the walnuts in a blender or the small bowl of a food processor, and grind to a coarse meal.
- 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).
- Run the machine while you drizzle in the oil. Transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate until use.