Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Cashew-Arugula Pesto Dressing

For a quick lunch on Friday, I made a pasta salad with the ingredients we had at home. My pasta salads vary a lot, exactly because I usually make them when I am hungry, and want to have something fast and tasty. This was the first time I used cashew-arugula pesto as a dressing for the salad, and it works nicely. The taste is quite peppery and fresh, and this dish could probably be served warm just as well.

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Here’s what I whisked in the blender for the dressing:

  • ½ dl olive oil (or more)
  • 3/4 dl toasted cashew nuts
  • 1,5 dl fresh, rinsed arugula
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (fresh would have been better, but we had none of that at home)
  • some salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • freshly ground black pepper

A milder flavor is achieved by adding more cashews, which we prefer when pesto is used as a spread. Water can be added for a lighter, more fluid texture.

After blending the pesto looked like this:

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Ingredients for the salad:

  • 250 g (uncooked) whole wheat fusilli
  • one medium stalk broccoli
  • 1/3 of a small onion, finely cubed (more, if the onions are mild)
  • 1 dl piri piri stuffed olives, or any olives
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 1 can black beans

I started cooking by steaming the broccoli. I divided it in small florets, and then steamed them, checking every two minutes, so that they wouldn’t cook too much. I think they eventually got steamed for 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, the pasta water was boiling, and I could cook the pasta according to the instructions in the package. After cooking, I rinsed the fusilli in cold water for a few minutes, to cool them down for the salad. Then I cubed the onion, and sliced the olives in three round pieces each. The beans had to be rinsed thoroughly to get rid of the brine.

Now I just poured everything in a big bowl, spooned the pesto on top, and mixed the salad thoroughly. After tasting, I added about a teaspoon of lime juice, a little olive oil, and some freshly ground black pepper.

Now we had a big bowl of pasta salad for the weekend, and it just got better and more spicy in the fridge. Usually I add fresh veggies in my pasta salads, but cubed vegetables do not taste the same after a night in the fridge. It is easy to add some cubed cucumber, bell pepper, or tomatoes on the plate next day before eating.

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