Sometimes experimenting can be tricky. It’s a risk that not everybody would like to take. But in my kitchen, I tend to experiment all the time. Pushing the boundaries is always a great thing – you learn from your mistakes and sometimes you have victories. I was playing around with a recipe with iceberg lettuce and literally decided to make a pasta with salad – and it worked! I created a lettuce and pesto pasta salad.
We had a potluck at work and someone had brought a head of iceberg lettuce. Wow, have we taken a trip back to the 80s? I honestly can’t remember the time where I willfully consumed iceberg lettuce. Aren’t we aware that there’s hardly any nutritional value in this lettuce? Oh well, maybe it’s not common knowledge. I hated seeing the poor thing go to waste so I brought it home with me, unsure of what I was going to make with it.
Days passed and I still wasn’t sure what to make until I was invited to a picnic at False Creek. Because I was working back-to-back doubles, I didn’t have any time to rush to the store and to prepare a carefully thought-out dish. Call me lazy, call me practical, but yay – I spent nothing on this becaused I had used whatever I had on-hand. You can call me crafty.
Fresh lettuce, butternut squash, homemade pesto and cavatappi pasta – a perfect dish to kick off the first picnic of the year! Feel free to use any other type of ridged pastas – rigatoni or penne would work beautifully as a substitution.
LETTUCE & PESTO PASTA SALAD – serves 6
1 (500g) pkg cavatappi
2 cups frozen butternut squash, thawed and drained
¾ cup pesto, homemade preferred
¼ head of iceberg lettuce, sliced thinly
salt + pepper, to taste
1/2 cup toasted Italian bread crumbs, homemade preferred
1 lemon, zest only
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until it is al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and set the pasta in a large serving bowl.
Add in the thawed-out squash, pesto, lettuce, pasta water and lemon zest. Toss and ensure that everything is coasted in the pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, mix the toasted bread crumbs and lemon zest. Add to the pasta salad and serve immediately for maximum crunch.