Arugula Pesto Pasta Salad with Mozzarella, Toasted Walnuts and Black Currants
High quality ingredients are key to this dish - peppery arugula pairs perfectly with the grassy extra virgin olive oil, while the currants add a surprising touch of sweetness.
Recipe Servings: 6 - 8 portions
Recipe Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Recipe Cook Time: 15 minutes
for Pasta Salad
1 pound high-quality Farfalle pasta, cooked and cooled
1 tbsp Lucini® Delicate Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lucini® Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to moisten if needed
2 large fresh Buffalo Mozzarella balls, cubed
Zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup dried black currants
½ cup shelled walnuts, toasted
Arugula Pesto (recipe below)
for Arugula Pesto
3 cups packed arugula leaves, stems removed
¾ cup shelled walnuts, toasted
½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups Lucini® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 head garlic, roasted (6 cloves will be used)
½ garlic clove peeled and minced
½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top of the garlic head off, about a centimeter in. Place entire head, cut end up, on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic with foil like a beggars purse and place in the oven for about 30 minutes. The garlic is finished when it is soft and creamy.
Meanwhile, place 1 ¼ cups of walnuts on a half-sheet tray, drizzle with scant amount of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then gently shake to evenly distribute seasoning over nuts. Place the nuts in the 350 degree oven and toast until lightly brown, about 8-10 minutes. Reserve ¾ cup walnuts for pesto and ½ cup walnuts for garnish.
In a food processor combine the arugula, salt, ¾ cup toasted walnuts, 6 cloves of roasted garlic and the ½ clove of raw garlic. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Lastly, add the Parmesan cheese and pulse. The texture should be fairly smooth by the end of the process. Cover with plastic wrap so that it is touching the pesto and no air can reach it. This will avoid oxidation and keep your pesto green. Reserve in the refrigerator.
Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. After the pasta is cooked and cooled, add the arugula pesto and toss until all the noodles are coated. Add the remaining ingredients, except walnuts, and toss. If the dish needs more olive oil to moisten, don’t be afraid to loosen it as much as you prefer. Season with salt and cracked black pepper. Garnish with walnuts.
Chef Grayson Schmitz brought sassy commentary and saucy cooking to Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas (Season 9). Grayson hails from the small town of New Holstein, Wisconsin and is proud to be a “Sconnie” girl. Like her personality, Grayson’s food is inspiring, but not pretentious. Upon graduation from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), she spent her formative years training under the best chefs in New York City, including Jean Georges Vongerichten, Fabbio Trabocchi, and Kurt Gutenbrunner. Grayson is currently head of recipe development at Olivier Cheng, New York’s premier events catering company.