Warm Parsley-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad

This recipe solves 2 problems. (1) If you ever go to the grocery store in search fresh parsley because you just need a bit for some recipe, you're forced to buy a gigantic clump of it. And while it's much cheaper than other herbs, and you can understand why they don't sell miniature 30 cent bunches, that leaves you with a lot of extra parsley once you're done with whatever it is you bought it for. And (2), I really love pasta when it's first made, but I really hate the consistency of microwaved saucy pasta when I'm eating my leftovers at lunch the next day. It soaks up all the moisture from the sauce so that it's both mushy and dry - gross! So if I'm going to bring it in to work for lunch, I prefer pastas that are good served cold, or barely warmed through like pasta salad.

But pasta salad is something you eat in the summer when picnicking or barbecuing, and is well, kinda boring and not very satisfying as a meal. This recipe for Warm Parsley-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad is both satisfying and a complete and balanced meal. And it's an easy and quick one bowl kind of meal at that. And even better, it will hold up well in the fridge for a few days so it makes a perfect packed lunch.

Warm Parsley-Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad
Makes 2-4 servings

Parsley-Walnut Pesto

Adapted from Everyday Food, March 2009

1 cup packed fresh parsley, washed and dried
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
salt to taste

Toast walnut pieces in a small skillet on medium heat, until fragrant. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and paste-like.

Pasta Salad
1 cup dry shaped whole-wheat/multi-grain pasta, such as rotini
2 tbsp cured black olives, roughly chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, oven roasted
2 tbsp chopped walnut pieces, toasted
1/2 (14.5 oz) can garbanzo or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in salted water to al dente. Meanwhile, toss arugula, beans, walnuts, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl. When pasta is cooked, drain and toss with pesto into arugula mixture adding a ladle of pasta cooking water to thin as necessary. Allow for arugula to wilt slightly.

Serve immediately or allow to cool before packing in resealable containers for lunch.

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