BROCCOLI-CASHEW PASTA SALAD is one of my all time favorites. Not only is it visually appealing, but it’s one of those “I’ll just have a little bit more” dishes.
The orecchiette pasta (which means ‘little ears’) is a perfect shape to capture all the goodies, so each mouthful is a tasty combination of crispy broccoli and red pepper, subtle mushrooms, salty cashews, all coated with a savory dijon dressing. If you use a spoon, you might be able to finagle everything in one bite.
This salad can be prepared in the time it takes to boil the water, then cook the pasta. It can be served warm, but I prefer to chill mine for about 20 minutes.
BROCCOLI-CASHEW PASTA SALAD – makes about 5-6 cups
- 1/2 lb orecchiette pasta
- 3 cups broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 T olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped
- 6 oz mushrooms (about 8), chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 T red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup salted cashews, lightly toasted (do this even if you buy them roasted)
Put a large pot of salted water to boil. When it reaches a full boil, add in the pasta and cook until done. Drain immediately, but don’t rinse or shake.
While pasta is cooking, put the broccoli in a steamer basket (don’t forget the water!). The goal is to break down the fibers enough to eat, but still leave a little crunch. Turn heat to high, cover, and set timer for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and take off lid. Let sit in pot while you do the next step – this allows the broccoli to complete cooking.
Heat oil in a skillet and add the onions and mushrooms. Sauté 2-3 minutes, then add in the red pepper. Continue to cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegar until smooth. Cool in refrigerator.
When pasta is done, combine it with the mushroom mixture and broccoli. If you’re serving the dish warmish, stir in the dressing and then the cashews. Serve.
If you want the salad a little chilled, place the pasta mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Then stir in dressing and cashews. Serve.