Spring Pasta Salad with Arugula Lemon Pesto

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This fresh pasta salad just shouts spring with its vibrant green color and the grilled asparagus adds another layer of delicious, smoky flavour.  The arugula pesto is so versatile and extra pesto can be used in a variety of ways or frozen for longer storage. Pasta salads are very flexible, so feel free to add crumbled feta or goat cheese, chopped olives, fresh tomatoes instead of sundried, or grilled green beans instead of asparagus.

Ways to use arugula pesto:
Spread it on a sandwich
Drizzle over a Caprese salad
Stir into ranch dressing or hummus for a dip
Drizzle over some grilled chicken skewers
Use as a dip for grilled or roasted vegetables

Ingredients

Arugula Pesto

  • 3 cups packed arugula
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup finely grated parmesan

Pasta Salad:

  • 1 lb. pasta, any shape will do
  • 1 tbsp. Major chicken base or 2 cups chicken broth, optional
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • ¼ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes or sun-dried tomato tapenade, drained well
  • Handful of fresh arugula or spinach leaves
  • Basil and arugula leaves for garnish

Mix it up & make it your own with these ingredients:

Fume-EH Smoked Olive Tapenade

Mt.Lehman’s Goat Feta Cheese

Method

First, let’s start with the pesto. Combine the arugula, basil, salt, walnuts or pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, and garlic into a food processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Set aside, or put into the fridge while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Heat grill to medium heat.  Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and once BBQ is heated, grill asparagus for approximately 5 minutes.  You want some grill marks, but you want the spears to still be fairly firm.

Keep a few spears whole for garnish, and chop the rest into 2-inch pieces.  Cool slightly. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and add Major’s chicken base to dissolve.  This step is optional but helps to keep the pasta from sticking together and also gives it an extra flavour boost.  You can also just add some chicken broth to your water. Cook pasta until al-dente. Drain and allow to cool slightly, stirring once in a while to prevent pasta from sticking together.  

Toss pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, chopped asparagus and enough pesto to coat everything.  Stir in arugula or spinach leaves. The pasta will soak up quite abit of the pesto, but you can always stir in more after a few hours. Garnish with remaining asparagus spears and slivered basil.  Best served at room temperature. If you’re taking it out the fridge, let it come to room temperature before serving. 

This fresh pasta salad just shouts “spring”  with its bright green color and vibrant flavours.  The arugula pesto is so versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, or frozen for longer storage.  Pasta salads are so flexible and feel free to add crumbled feta or goat cheese, chopped olives, fresh tomatoes instead of sundried, or grilled green beans instead of asparagus.