Time: 30 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes
Forget that tired old pasta salad Aunt Gertrude brings to the family reunions, this salad is where it’s at! No mayo required, the Sundried Walnut Dressing gives up plenty of flavor, beans keep you stuffed and arugula gives you that Trattoria feel. So tell Aunt Gertrude she’s fired, but could she get you some fresh black pepper before she leaves? This recipe is modified from Appetite For Reduction.
Note: this is a low-fat recipe, but if you like, you can add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the dressing. You can also add 1/2 cup toasted walnuts to the salad when you’re mixing it, just toast 1/2 cup extra when making the walnuts for the dressing.
Time management tip: Cook the pasta first and then prepare everything else, including the dressing.
For the Sundried Tomato Walnut Dressing:
1/4 cup sundried tomatos (the dry kind, not the oil-packed kind)
3 tablespoons walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoons dijon mustard
3/4 teapoon salt
A few dashes fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
For the pasta salad:
8 oz shell shaped brown rice pasta, boiled al dente, drained and cooled
1 15 oz can great northern beans or navy beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups arugula
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped in half
Salt to taste
Fresh black pepper
Optional: 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
Prepare the dressing:
First rehydrate the tomatoes. Place them in a bowl, a submerge in warm water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes, then drain.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts. Preheat a small, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Toss in the walnuts and toast them, stirring often, for about 7 minutes. They should be varying shades of toasty brown, and smell walnut-y. Transfer immediately to the food processor.
Pulse the walnuts and fennel seed to finely chop. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the marjoram, and puree until relatively smooth. Add the marjoram and pulse a few times to get it integrated. Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container until ready to use.
Once the pasta is cool, toss all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Taste for salt and keep chilled until ready to eat.