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Saffron and Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe

This recipe is easy to prepare and looks interesting too. The saffron gives the spaghetti a fragrant flavor as well as a bright yellow color. Saffron is made from the stamens of purple crocuses found in the Middle East and Spain. There are only three stamens in each crocus and each one is hand-picked which is why saffron is expensive. The yellow color has made it popular throughout the ages, and it has been used in magic and medicine, as well as to make recipes. The flavor is slightly bitter and the aroma is pungent and unique.

This pesto pasta salad recipe features a little pesto, to add a herb flavor to the spaghetti. Either choose a good quality bottled brand or make your own. Alternatively, you can use a little chopped basil or parsley instead of the pesto, to simplify the flavors in the dish even more.

The arugula makes a basic yet effective garnish, and if you prefer to serve this dish warm instead of chilled, you can swap the arugula for a sprig of fresh herbs instead. This makes a nice appetizer and you will only need tiny portions, else it will be too filling. Alternatively serve it for lunch. It travels well too so you could take this to work in a plastic container.

Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe with Arugula
Summary: This simple, six-ingredient pasta salad offers a new spin on pasta salad. We are using pesto, saffron and parmesan for wonderful flavor, and serving it with an arugula garnish.
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ lb spaghetti
  • ⅓ teaspoon saffron
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon good quality pesto
  • 2 oz arugula
  1. Cook the spaghetti following the instructions on the package.
  2. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the saffron and pesto.
  3. Stir to dissolve the saffron and remove the mixture from the heat.
  4. Drain the cooked spaghetti and add it to the skillet with the oil.
  5. Toss to coat with oil and add the grated cheese.
  6. Toss again to mix thoroughly, then divide the pesto spaghetti mixture between 4 serving plates.
  7. Chill for an hour, then garnish with arugula and serve.

Photo Description:

Serve this to your dinner guests and they will wonder how you got the spaghetti so yellow. There are different ways to add a yellow hue to pasta, including turmeric or yellow food coloring, but saffron also gives the dish a nice aroma and delicate flavor. Saffron is not cheap but you only need a tiny amount. Have you tried an authentic paella recipe? That is also flavored with saffron. This pesto pasta salad recipe does not require a lot of ingredients so it is easy to put together. You can also make it several hours ahead, or even a day ahead. Try this with leftover spaghetti if you have some.

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hello and welcome to Amazing Salad Recipes. My name is Christine and I'm delighted you are visiting. I started this blog because salad is such an important dish. It can be a side dish or a whole meal, and there are so many type I love to prepare and serve to my family, helping them get all their nutrients as well as having something they can really enjoy.

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