Summer cooking should be bright and full of the freshest produce. This pasta salad has an Italian spin with a tangy cashew pesto vinaigrette and chunks of high quality Salami. The vinaigrette is made with Greek yogurt which gives a lighter taste than a cheese based pesto. I love finding new ways to incorporate raw nuts into dressings and sauces, adding depth of flavor, a smoother, more decadent consistency, plus extra protein. Packed atop a bed of greens, this is one of the prettiest, most brightly colored platters you’ll put on the table, which is exactly why I pair it with a bouquet of summer’s best friend, the sunflower.
- 2 cups cooked orzo pasta
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced (I chose the yellow variety because they are sweeter and look so nice here)
- 3 ears of fresh corn
- 1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
- 3 cups of greens (I chose mixed greens)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, ripped
- 1 cup high quality Italian Salami, cut into 1/2
- To Garnish: crumbled goat cheese
- Yogurt, Cashew, and Herb Dressing:
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1 large lemon, juiced
- 2 Tbsp. fat free Greek yogurt
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/2 cup raw cashews (leave out to make this nut free)
- 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the corn, still in the husks, into the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Take out and allow to cool. Once cool to touch, take out of husk and set aside.
- In a pot of boiling water, cook the orzo. Set aside once finished.
- In a food processor, mix together all of the ingredients, except the olive oil, until it creates a smooth mixture. Add in the olive oil. Add in 1 Tbsp. water if it seems stiff and doesn’t have the consistency of a salad dressing. Taste and season further if need be. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, prep all of the other veggies (except the greens). Cut the corn off the husk and add to the bowl of veggies.
- Add in the diced salami. Add in the orzo. Add in 3 Tbsp. of the dressing. Mix and taste. if it needs more dressing, add in an little bit more. You don’t want to over due it here or it might get overly tangy. Reserve in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- In a large salad bowl, place the greens at the bottom. Add the orzo salad on top and then garnish with the basil and toast cheese. Serve with the extra dressing on the side.