“Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.”
– Clifton Fadiman
Happy 2016, everyone! May it be better than 2015 for us all and hopefully (in my case) without as much sadness.
While Christmas may be my absolute favourite eating season, as well my favourite season in general due to Thanksgiving, Christmas and my birthday all happening in it, I will be the first to admit I went overboard in the eating department. We had turkey, spiced beef and ham sandwiches for days afterwards – I like mine with mayonnaise, cranberry sauce and stuffing. Incredibly delicious but a bit heavy! Add on to that all the desserts and biscuits that make the rounds (seriously, there are still 5 giant boxes of biscuits in our house – and we ate at least 3 boxes over the holiday!) and it’s amazing I’m not just a ball of food.
Up until Monday, we were still in a Christmas zone as part of my sister’s present to us was a trip to the zoo and a lunch at Mary Ann’s favourite bar, The Market Bar for tapas of nachos, calamari, patata bravas, and meatballs. It was a really fun day that finished up at The Moving Crib – a Dublin tradition and a great venue for those with kids or who really enjoy the story of Christmas.
To try and end Christmas on a high note, I’ve been making a warm salad the last few days with some wild garlic pesto. Pesto is one of my favourite condiments and in summer I will use it on salads for days. While I still use it a lot in winter, I find it much harder to use up the jar during that season. I think it must be partly because my brain connects it with summer and partly because, during winter, I usually buy it for a specific reason. Anyway, during the Christmas, I had my birthday and made the Salmon and Pesto Toasties, that I had originally made for my birthday last year (hummm maybe that is a new tradition?). Consequently, I had about half a jar of pesto left and I needed to use it up before it’s expiration date. I also had two-thirds of a jar of sun-dried tomatoes left. A quick rummage found some other leftovers and this warm salad was born (although it would be really good cold, too!). The Brie that I used was quite pungent as I’m pretty sure my sister had left it out for a few days which gave a lovely bite to the salad but it may not be to everyone’s taste, so judge for yourself how you like your Brie.
The second time I made this recipe, I added some smoked salmon. My mom was eating it when I was preparing my relatively healthy bowl and it looked so tempting and I felt that it was calling out to me to add some to the salad, so I did. I loved the smoky addition, so if you have some in your fridge, go ahead and add it but it’s not a necessity at all. Happy eating!
Warm Pesto Pasta Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Brie
- 100g/3.5oz maccheroni al ferretto pasta (or pasta of a similar shape). If you have a Lidl near you, it should be available there.
- 2 tbsp flaked almonds
- 1-2 heaped tsp Sacla Italia Wild Garlic Pesto, or other green pesto
- 6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
- around 50g/1.75oz Brie cut into thick slices
- A handful of rocket/arugula
- ¼ cup smoked salmon (optional)
- Cook the pasta as per package directions in boiling salted water until just al dente, adding olive oil just before you add the pasta.
- Meanwhile, toast the almonds gently under a grill/broiler. Once browned, turn off the grill and leave to cool.
- Drain the pasta, but retain about a teaspoon of the pasta water to mix with the pesto. Tip the drained pasta back into the pot you used to cook it and add the pesto, mixing well.**
- Add the rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, Brie, half the toasted almonds and smoked salmon, if using, and mix well.
- Sprinkle the remaining toasted almonds on top and serve immediately.
**If serving this as a cold salad, discard the pasta water and only add the pesto and remaining ingredients once the pasta has cooled.