Being a huge walnut fan (and any type of nut for that matter!), I volunteered to help support walnuts.org in a ‘virtual salad party’. This recipe I’m posting was the dish I chose to make, 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 flavour.
I was a bit skeptical at first about Cilantro (coriander) being the main pesto ingredient, but I pushed my doubts aside and just went with it. I was not disappointed – it added a wonderful fragrant thai twist – the flavours worked together beautifully. I was even more nervous serving it up to my husband (he’s a pasta lover and hates change!) but to my astonishment, he not only cleared his dish but went back for seconds!
What I liked even more about this dish was that it took just 15 minutes to make and you can serve it hot, warm, room temperature, or cold. It’s very versatile. Perfect for a spring supper, a picnic, or even a desk lunch. An added bonus is that it’s low calorie too. You can add more veggies to the dish too if you like; peas would go well, as well as cherry tomatoes.
Cilantro-Walnut Pesto Ingredients
1/2 Cup Walnut Halves
1/2 Cup Firmly Packed Cilantro (coriander)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Garlic Clove, minced (use 2 if you prefer a stronger flavour)
1/2 tsp Salt
8 oz Pasta (your preferred shape - I used fresh tagliatelle)
Cilantro-Walnut Pesto (see above)
1/2 Red Pepper, diced
1/2 Zucchini (courgette) thinly sliced
4 oz Mozzarella, diced
Salt and Pepper
1. First, make the pesto. In a food processor, blitz the walnut halves into crumbs. Add the remaining ingredients 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 drain, add the zucchini and blanch for a minute. Drain the pasta/zucchini, reserving a little of the starchy pasta liquid, and return to the pan.
3. Stir through the pesto (if needed, use some of the reserved pasta liquid to help loosen the pesto) and the mozzarella and red pepper. Add some seasoning to taste.
4. Serve between two pasta dishes and enjoy with a glass of white wine.