The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Spring Pasta Salad with Cilantro-Walnut Pesto

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Level: Easy

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Description

I recently volunteered to help walnuts.org with their ‘virtual salad party’. This veggie recipe was the dish I chose to make. What I like even more about this dish is that it takes just 15 minutes to make and you can serve it hot, warm, room temperature, or cold. It’s so versatile.

Ingredients

  • ½ cups Walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ cups Firmly Packed Cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 pinch Salt And Pepper
  • 8 ounces, weight Pasta, Your Preferred Shape
  • ½ whole Zucchini, Sliced
  • ½ whole Red Pepper, Stem And Seeds Removed, Sliced
  • 4 ounces, weight Mozzarella, Shredded
  • 1 pinch Salt

Preparation

1. First, make the pesto. In a food processor, blitz the walnut halves into crumbs. Add the olive oil, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and continue to pulse until you have a paste. Scrape into a small bowl and set aside for later.

Note, the pesto can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed.

2. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and just before you’re ready to remove it from the heat and drain it, add the zucchini into the boiling water and blanch for a minute. Drain the pasta/zucchini, reserving a little of the starchy pasta liquid in a cup. Return pasta mixture to the pan.

3. Stir the pesto into the pasta mixture (if needed, use some of the reserved pasta liquid to help loosen the pesto). Then fold in the mozzarella and red pepper. Add some seasoning to taste.

4. Serve between two pasta dishes and enjoy with a glass of white wine.

This was a recipe originally by Mollie Katzen, which I adapted ever so slightly. I replaced some of the oil with lemon juice for a lighter, fresher flavor.

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