Mediterranean Bean and Pasta Salad
Pasta and pesto are a natural together. The herbaceous nut, cheese, and olive oil sauce cling lovingly to the chewy, savory pasta. Heighten this experience by adding supple, creamy garbanzo beans and a new match is made. This is just fine but begs the acidic balancing act of cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and sweet red pepper. Awwwww….
Maybe you can tell I have been watching the documentary Salt Fat Acid Heat. While creating this entrée salad I applied many of the principles found in that series. If you haven’t seen it, you really must engage your senses to that marvelous Netflix documentary. Meanwhile, you might just want to try this recipe.
Classic Italian pesto calls for pine nuts, garlic, basil, Parmesan, and olive oil. I have strayed here substituting walnuts for the pine nuts, parsley, basil, and mint for the basil, and have even thrown in ground fennel seed for a bit of mystery. Since basil is in the mint family, I enjoy using them together. Reggiano Parmigiano is always my go-to Italian cheese but why not throw in pecorino romano for some or all the cheese? Loved the cheese mixture when I was testing this recipe. And I just bought the most amazing organic extra virgin GARLIC olive oil from Costco that I used rather than adding minced garlic. It all worked so well together! I hope you think so too! Leave a comment if you try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Scroll to the bottom for a printable recipe
4 entrée servings
⅓ cup walnuts
⅓ cup Reggiano Parmigiano, grated
1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 medium clove)
⅔ cup parsley, chopped
¾ cup fresh basil and or mint or mixed
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup whole wheat orzo pasta (4 ounces)
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
⅓ cup kalamata olives, sliced
¼ cup red pepper, small diced
16 cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup fresh basil and/or mint, thinly sliced into ribbons (optional)
Pulse the walnuts, cheese, garlic, parsley, basil or mint, and fennel in a food processor until finely chunky. Slowly pour the olive oil into the processor until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring 1 quart of filtered water and one tablespoon of kosher salt to a boil. Add the orzo pasta and bring back to a boil. Boil the orzo according to the package suggested time until al dente (toothsome). Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain for several minutes.
Combine the orzo, beans, olives, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and sea salt together. Toss with the pesto. Taste, Think, Transform with sea salt and/or pepper.
Garnish with the basil or mint ribbons and serve at room temperature or cold.