The pasta salad with arugula pesto is great for a quick and easy lunch or dinner, to take to parties, picnics and barbecues. It’s fresh, colorful and a real crowd pleaser.
Make the pesto while the pasta is cooking and your salad will be ready in less than 20 minutes. You can also prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days.
Arugula pesto with almonds makes a nice change from the basil pesto and kale pesto I usually make. Remember to toast the almonds. This allows their natural oils to be released and their aromas to come out, which means more flavor for your pesto.
Choose a short shape pasta: penne, farfalle (bow ties) , fusilli (corkscrews). You can also use two different shapes as long as they have the same cooking time. I usually do that when I have too many open boxes in my pantry and I want to finish them up. Feel free to use gluten-free, spelt or wholegrain pasta if you prefer.
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- For the pasta salad:
- 180 grams (2 cups) dry pasta
- 150 grams (1 cup) cherry tomatoes
- 1 fresh mozzarella, cubed
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) black olives, sliced
- salt, pepper
- For the arugula pesto:
- 30 grams (1/4 cup) blanched almonds (plus extra for garnish), toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 small clove garlic
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 50 grams (1 cup) arugula, washed and dried
- Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water, drain and reserve some of the water.
- Rinse the pasta under cold running water to stop the cooking process.
- While the pasta is cooking, toast the almonds in a dry hot pan. It isn’t strictly necessary but it will make it all taste just that much better.
- Make the pesto. Put the garlic, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese and almonds in a food processor.
- Process until you have a thick paste, scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Add the arugula and the remaining olive oil. If the pesto is too thick for your liking, you can thin it out a bit with the reserved water.
- When the pasta is cold, add the freshly made pesto to your pasta and stir to coat.
- Add the olives, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.
- Enjoy your pasta salad with arugula pesto!