This pasta salad is right at home at just about any potluck or party — and it's particularly happy parked next to a bowl brimming with a leafy green salad. I made it first for my sister's baby shower, and a dozen times since. As far as choosing the right type of ravioli, I keep red pepper ravioli with chard filling on hand (in the freezer) just for this salad. I like the play between the red pepper and the zesty lemon-cilantro pesto. But you can take the idea in a number of directions, and both spinach and whole wheat ravioli are worthy substitutes. If you can imagine the filling going well with the cilantro pesto, you're probably in safe territory.
Serves 4 to 6
1/3 cup / 1.5 ounces / 45 grams pepitas, toasted
1 cup / 0.5 ounce / 15 grams lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
1/3 cup / 0.5 ounce / 15 grams freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed
2/3 cup / 160 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil
Fine-grain sea salt
16 ounces / 450 grams fresh or frozen ravioli
1/2 cup / 3 ounces / 85 grams oil-cured black olives, pitted and torn or chopped
Thyme or chive flowers, to garnish (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, make the cilantro pesto. Combine most of the pepitas, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice and a splash of the olive oil and blend with an immersion blender (or in a food processor or standard blender) until smooth. Continue blending as you gradually drizzle in the remaining olive oil, until the pesto comes together into a vibrant green sauce. Taste and add salt or more lemon juice, if needed.
When the water boils, salt it generously, add the ravioli, and boil until they float and are cooked through, usually just 1 or 2 minutes. Drain immediately and, while still hot, toss with a big spoonful of the pesto. Allow the pesto to soak in a bit. Then add another 1/2 cup / 120 milliliters of the pesto along with most of the black olives. Toss well, but gently, and then decide whether you want to add more pesto.
Turn everything out into a large bowl or platter and sprinkle with the remaining olives, pepitas and flowers. Serve warm or at room temperature. Reserve the remaining pesto for tossing with leftovers.
From Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson. Copyright 2011 Heidi Swanson. Reprinted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House Inc.