4.7.18: I’ve updated this old favorite with new pictures. After eight years of serving this to guests, this has become my most requested party recipe…and the one my friends and family ask to take home with them after a gathering. Use your favorite herbs and it will become a favorite in your home, too.
Click here for the base recipe for Italian Salsa Verde and the salad recipe is below.
This salad screams “Spring!” and I’m just screaming, period. All my northern California neighbors will understand–this weather is nuts! Winter, you’re supposed to be on your way to Australia by now. You’ve overstayed your welcome. Scoot! Scram! Bye bye!
Okay, rant over. Until Mother Nature decides to listen to me, I’ll just shift my focus away from this foul weather and allow this lush garden of a salad to transport me to more spring-like conditions. This salad is so full of light, fresh flavors that I might just believe summer is actually upon us.
A few years ago, I chanced upon a magazine featuring a picture of this herb-loaded salad. Full of basil, mint, cilantro, and parsley–it looked so good that I promptly bought the magazine. When I got home, however, I decided that I didn’t like the dressing that was meant to accompany it. I remember it being a curry-based vinaigrette and as much as I love curry, it just didn’t seem complementary to the rest of the dish. Fortunately, I had some leftover Italian salsa verde from a party we had a few days before and I was inspired to use it as the base for the dressing.
Italian salsa verde is a parsley-based sauce that is typically used with boiled/grilled meats, similar to an Argentinian chimichurri sauce. In fact, it’s such a favorite in my home that I proudly featured it as one of my earliest posts.
How lucky I was to have had the salsa verde on hand for it satisfied the parsley component of the salad I so wanted to try. It turned out to be one of the most delicious dishes I have ever prepared. In fact, if you decide to try only one recipe from this blog, I would recommend this. While I’ve done my best to show you my favorites so far, I think this would have the most universal appeal. It has pasta for the carb-lovers, chicken for meat-eaters, arugula and herbs for the vegetarians.
Each bite of this salad delights with a fresh-burst of spring. The peppery note of the arugula pairs well with the sweet basil, the leafy freshness of cilantro, the clean taste of mint and the vibrancy of the parsley sauce that binds this all together. The pasta and the chicken add the substance that makes this a savory, filling, complete meal on a plate.
Of course, this salad is very flexible. You can skip the chicken if you’re a vegetarian or the cilantro even, if you are averse to it. For me, the basil is the most optional of the ingredients, not because I don’t like it but because I feel that the cilantro, mint and the arugula are the strongest players of this team. If you’re hungry for spring like I am, I urge you to try this dish; you won’t be disappointed.
This will be my submission for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights. The Crispy Cook hosts the 165th edition of this weekly event featuring the pasta contributions of my fellow food bloggers. Check it out.
Pasta Salad with Arugula and Four Herbs
- 1 lb box of Farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
- 3 or more cups of fresh arugula
- 1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
- 1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 cup or so cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced
- 1 cup Italian salsa verde (recipe here)
Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente, drain and set aside.
Prepare the salsa verde and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, chicken, arugula, basil, cilantro, mint and salsa verde. If the salsa verde seems to thick, add more fresh lemon juice and drizzle more olive oil as you toss the salad. Feel free to adjust the proportions to your liking.