courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad

Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad
Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad

I might as well come clean at the start and confess that I came up with this recipe because I’d been experiencing serious pangs of lunch envy on workdays. It didn’t seem to matter what anyone else brought into the office, it always looked more enticing than the contents of my lunchbox. I regularly made up my mind to mix it up a bit on the lunch front, but most evenings, by the time we’d rushed around sorting out dinner and administering to the needs of the two youngest members of our household, we could rarely muster up the energy to throw together anything more exciting than a couple of cheese sandwiches for the next day.

As you’ve probably guessed, this salad takes a little longer to make than a cheese sandwich, but it lasts in the fridge for up to 48 hours, so you can always double-up on the quantities if you want to make it go further. If you make it in advance, it’s worth holding off on the fresh mint and adding it on the day you plan to eat it. It makes a filling lunch or summer supper, and a show-stealing side dish at a barbecue.

When deciding on the ingredients, I drew inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Pasta and fried courgette salad, In my version, the courgettes are shalllow-fried rather than deep-fried, and I’ve dropped the edamame beans and capers and replaced them with peas and toasted pine nuts. I’ve also used mint rather than basil and parsley as I think it goes really well with mozzarella and peas. The result is light and zingy with a great balance of flavours.

Why not give this a go, especially if you too are eager to shed those feelings of lunch envy and open your lunchbox with pride?

Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad
Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad

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Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad
Instructions
  1. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and simmer for the amount of time indicated on the packet (usually 10-12 minutes). Add the peas 2-3 minutes before the end of the cooking process. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Dry-fry the pine nuts for 2-3 minutes, turning every now and again until lightly toasted. Then set aside.
    Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the frying pan over a medium-high heat. (Alternatively, you can use a griddle pan if you have one.) When the oil is hot, fry the courgettes for 3-4 minutes on each side until crispy and golden brown. The courgettes should be spaced out in the frying pan so you may need to do a couple of batches. Add a further 1 tbsp olive oil about halfway through the cooking process. While frying, season the courgettes lightly with salt on both sides. Once cooked, set aside in a large bowl and leave to cool.
    Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad
  4. Grate the zest of the lemon over the courgettes.
    Courgette, mozzarella & pea pasta salad
  5. Mix the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil with the vinegar. Then pour over the courgettes.
  6. Add the pasta, peas, mint, mozzarella and pine nuts to the courgette mixture, season well with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  7. Arrange the salad on plates and serve, or cover and store in the fridge for later.
Recipe Notes

If you can't get hold of strozzapreti or casarecce, feel free to substitute with other shapes. Farfalle and fusilli are also good choices for pasta salads.

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