Recipe: red pepper romanesco pasta salad

What’s a braai without a pasta salad side? This zesty pasta and sauce can also be served hot as a speedy family dinner. Win-win!

You will need:

1 cup raw walnuts
3 slices white bread, crust removed, cut into pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large red pepper
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
250g Pasta Joy fusilli (large spiral-shaped pasta) or medium shell pasta
Mixed snacking tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
Parmesan, finely chopped
1 cup basil leaves, torn if large

How to make the pasta salad

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Chop red pepper into chunks, place on an oven tray with olive oil, salt, garlic and pepper and roast until soft (roughly 20 minutes). Remove from oven.
  2. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast, tossing half way through, until golden brown (10 to 12 minutes). Let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, process bread in long pulses in a food processor until coarse crumbs form (you should have about 1 cup). Transfer to a small bowl.
  4. Purée roasted red pepper plus pan juices, lemon juice, garlic, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, and about one quarter of the cooled walnuts in food processor (no need to clean) until smooth. With the motor running, very gradually stream in ½ cup oil. Process until thick; season Romesco dressing generously with salt.
  5. Cook PASTA JOY fusilli in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water (this stops cooking and removes surface starch so the pasta will be less sticky). Shake off excess water and transfer to a large bowl.
  6. Toss pasta with half of the Romesco to coat; set aside. Finely chop remaining walnuts; set aside.
  7. Heat remaining 2 tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook breadcrumbs, lemon zest and remaining ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Toss reserved pasta with remaining dressing, then fold in tomatoes, Parmesan, and reserved walnuts just to distribute. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pasta and top with basil.

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