Friday, July 20, 2007

Tomatoes! A Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

After stingily granting us one or two fruit at a time for the past month or so, our tomato plants have decided to go nuts recently.

We have been growing three different types this year -- some tiny orange cherry tomatoes, some yellow pear tomatoes and some green zebra stripe heirlooms. The small size is key, as we are growing them in pots in our not-at-all-large patio.

Last night we decided that we needed to use some of the little guys so that they didn't go to waste. The solution -- Pesto Pasta Salad. Our most common pesto departs from tradition somewhat, using arugula and spinach instead of basil, and almonds instead of pine nuts.

We vary the exact ingredients we put in, but the recipe here is pretty typical. This time we grilled some salmon and flaked it in at the end.

Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves 4.
For a satisfying main dish, add cooked salmon, shrimp or tuna.

1/2 cup Arugula Pesto
2 cups (6 oz) cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
8 oz farfalle pasta (bowties)
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (6 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
Red wine vinegar, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt (2-3 teaspoons). Cook the cauliflower florets in the salted water for 3 minutes or until just tender. Scoop out and place into a large bowl.

Cook the farfalle in the same water for 11 minutes or until al dente. Drain, and rinse briefly to cool the pasta. Add the farfale, sliced onion, and pesto to the cauliflower. Mix gently, but thoroughly to evenly distribute the pesto. Sprinkle on the 1/4-teaspoon salt and fold in the tomatoes.

Taste for seasoning and mix in a couple teaspoons of red wine vinegar to perk up the flavors if desired.


Instead of cauliflower and tomatoes, try slices of cooked yukon gold potates and blanched baby green beans

Arugula Pesto

Arugula pesto keeps its bright, vibrant green color much better than its basil counterpart.
You can use extra virgin olive oil if you'd like, but strongly flavored versions have a tendency to over-power the flavors of the arugula and cheese.
Makes about 1 cup.

2 cups tightly packed baby arugula
1 cup tightly packed baby spinach
1-3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup (2 oz) finely shredded Pecorino Romano
1/4-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Put the garlic into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mince. Add the almonds and process finely. Pack the arugula and spinach into the bowl. Pulse about 30 seconds to finely chop the greens, scraping the sides of the bowl for even processing. Pour in most of the olive oil and blend to mix. Add the Pecorino Romano and salt. Pulse to incorporate, but don't over mix or the bright green color will turn cloudy. Add additional olive oil if you'd like a saucier, looser version.

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