RISE & SHINE KAUT43 OKC
You know, I’ve never been a fan of “pasta salad.” They’re usually bland, lacking on flavor, and tossed with so many random things left over in your refrigerator that it all ends up being hodgepodge suitable for funeral luncheons and soccer mom cookouts.
Okay, I have no problems with soccer moms, cookouts, funerals, or luncheons. My issue is with pasta salads in general, and the flavors and “textures.”
So today, on a beautiful late spring day in Oklahoma City as we roll into summer, I was tasked to prepare an outdoor luncheon and needed something “salad” like. I bit the bullet and came up with my own version of a pasta salad… And this pasta salad is one that I will go-to over, and over again!
Staying away from a mayonnaise-based dressing (not cool for summer outdoor eats), and god forbid a basil pesto base (been there-done that) , I wanted something with brightness, flavor, and freshness. Roasted walnuts, bright and peppery ginger, along with a hint of fresh mint and lemon came through in my head. Pairing it with simple grilled shrimp and tender grilled shishito peppers sealed the deal for me.
Walnut-Ginger Pasta Salad with Grilled Shrimp & Shishito Peppers
For The Walnut-Ginger Pesto
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
1/4 cup fresh ginger, julienned
1/2 cup fresh mint
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon In The Kitchen With Scotty “Cook’s Line Seasoning” or your own salt and pepper
For The Pasta Salad
4 cups Radiatori pasta (radiator shaped pasta, or your pasta of choice)
Grilled Shrimp (You pick the size, marinate with olive oil, lemon juice, and seasoning then grill)
8 ounces Shishito peppers
Grilled halved lemons
To make the Walnut-Ginger Pesto: In a food processor, add the toasted walnuts, fresh julienned ginger, mint, lemon zest, and juice. Process the contents to a coarse paste. With the processor running, add the oil along with Cook’s Line Seasoning. Taste for additional seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the radiatori pasta and cook to al dente. Reserve one cup of the pasta water for later. Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cold water to cool the pasta and to stop the cooking.
In a large bowl add the walnut-ginger pesto. Thin the pesto with the reserved pasta cooking water to make a sauce for the pasta salad. Add the cooked and cooled pasta then toss to coat evenly. Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator.
Start heating your indoor or outdoor grill according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add the shishito peppers to a bowl and toss with olive oil and Cook’s Line Seasoning (or your own salt and black pepper) to taste. Thread your shrimp onto bamboo skewers, and dress with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and Cook’s Line Seasoning. Grill the shishito peppers and shrimp until cooked.
To build individual servings, add the pasta salad. Top with the grilled shrimp and shishito peppers. Add a grilled halved lemon for garnish. Want cheese? I have no problem with that, add grated pecorino or Romano cheese! Enjoy!