Arugula & Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad with Broccoli & Chickpeas

Sometimes I take things a little too far, as evidenced by this post's extremely long title. 
It all started when I had a craving for pasta salad. My favorite pasta salad last summer had chickpeas and broccoli in it, so I decided on those two ingredients. 

Then I thought pesto would be fun to try, BUT of course I had to do something different. I found Giada's recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto, which sounded intriguing, but I also ran into a couple arugula pesto recipes too. Choices? No. Combinations? Yes. Additions? Why not? 

Anyway, in the end I decided to keep things light by nixing the traditional nuts and adding some fresh tomatoes to the mix as well. 

(The chickpeas didn't actually go into the pesto. They just look pretty.)

With the first spin of the food processor I realized that green and red together form a rather unappetizing color for food. Actually, it's sort of reminiscent of vomit.  Ooops. 

I also discovered that while I like the spicy/bitter flavor of arugula in contrast to other ingredients in salads, such as with the sweet potato and black bean salad or this amazing chopped salad, when pureed into a sauce-like substance, the arugula tastes, well, bitter.

Between the barf-like appearance and bitter flavor of the pesto, I strongly considered dumping out the whole thing and starting over.

But, I hate wasting food.

And then two things happened:

1.) I added a tablespoon of sugar and more cheese (Don't those two things fix all the problems of the world?)

2.) I left it in the fridge overnight.

The extra cheese and sugar definitely helped, but something really changed when I tried this dish the next day. I'm not sure if it was the cooler temperature or the extra time for the flavors to meld together, but some radical transformation occurred.

As in this dish transformed from something I wouldn't eat into something I wanted second helpings of.

You'll get more than your daily servings of vegetables and fiber with this pasta salad, while also satisfying picky eaters with the luxuriousness of the two types of cheese.

Also, if you want to skip the whole arugula/sugar question, just try it with spinach. :)

Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad with Broccoli and Chickpeas

8oz dried pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water
1 cup broccoli
1 can chickpeas, drained
4 cups arugula (or use spinach and omit the sugar!)
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup cherry tomatoes
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
½ cup parmesean cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving one cup of starchy cooking liquid.

Preheat oven to 400. 

Spread chickpeas and broccoli over a lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring at least once.

In a food processor, add 2 cups of the arugula, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and ¼ cup olive oil. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add the remaining 2 cups of arugula and pulse until smooth.

Combine the pesto and reserved pasta water in a small saucepan. (I used the same pan the pasta cooked in as the pasta was draining in the colander) Cook on low for 5 minutes or until desired consistency. Taste and add sugar if desired.

Mix together pasta, pesto, broccoli, chickpeas and two cheeses. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


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