Pasta salads get a bad rap but I find that the more I think of them as room temperature summer dishes and the less as mayo-slicked bowls of suspicion and dread, the more inviting they become, not only for cookouts and picnics, but (ahem) a gorgeous Tuesday night.
Two things help a lot, first, I like starting with a salad dressing we’ve loved and building it from there. We talked about this walnut pesto [pesto di noci] for the first time way back in 2009; it’s from Jody Williams and it’s a longtime staple on crostini at the shoebox wine bar Gottino in the West Village. Don’t be put off by its unassuming appearance – this combination of toasted walnuts, olive oil, thyme, parmesan and a dab of minced sundried tomatoes is a triumph of flavor, I’m not surprised Frank Bruni once called it one of the best crostini in town and likened it to “crunchy peanut butter for grown-ups.” [But oh, I think it’s even better.]
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