Who says salads are just for summer? Goat’s cheese, red onion and walnuts work beautifully together in this delicious, warm pasta salad. This salad can be thrown together in less than 30 minutes, making it great for busy work nights or speedy weekend lunches. It tastes great cold too, so make double and pop some in a box to take to work the next day.
Don’t you just love happy accidents? This lovely warm salad is the result of one such happy accident. I found a picture of a pasta salad that I liked in delicious magazine and duly went out and bought all the ingredients. It was only when I came to make the salad, I realised I hadn’t really read the recipe properly at all. I must have looked at the picture and assumed I knew what was in the salad. My ingredients were not at all what was required, so I went ahead and made a salad with the ingredients I did have and it turned out so beautifully I just had to share it on the blog.
The combination of sharp and salty goat’s cheese, earthy nutty walnuts and sweet roasted red onions is just such a fabulous one. The warmth in the pasta and onions makes the goat’s cheese melt a little so it’s all gloopy and oozy and the salad leaves just finish the dish of with a beautiful fresh crunch and a pepperiness from the rocket.
You can use any mixed leaves for this dish but I like to use a mix of rocket, dark red babyleaf, mizuna and spinach I get at Tesco. I love the way the leaves gently wilt in the warmth of the pasta. The salad leaves come in a 90g bag and I only need 50g for the pasta salad, so I like to serve the extra salad leaves in a bowl on the table for people to help themselves to extra. I like to serve it with a glass of Loire Sauvignon Blanc which is just such a perfect match with Chevre goat’s cheese, which also comes from the Loire.
- 1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges (or two small ones)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 300g pasta (I used fusilli)
- 50g walnut halves
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 50g mixed salad leaves (I used a mix of rocket, dark red babyleaf, mizuna, and spinach)
- 100g goat's cheese (I used Chevre), chopped into small chunks
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
- Chop the red onion into wedges and place in a small roasting tray. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of olive oil and roast in your preheated oven for 20 minutes until the red onion is tinged with golden brown.
- While the red onions are roasting, cook 300g pasta according to packet instructions / your own preferences. Drain when ready and put back into the saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, plus some salt and pepper. Stir to coat the pasta evenly.
- After the red onions have been cooking for 15 minutes add the walnuts to the tray and put the roasting tray back in the oven for 5 minutes.
- After the final 5 minutes are up, remove the roasting tray from the oven and tip the red onions and walnuts into the pasta and stir well.
- Tip the pasta into a serving bowl and add the chopped goat's cheese and the salad leaves. Stir well so everything is evenly distributed and to allow the goat's cheese to melt slightly and the salad leaves to gently wilt in the warmth of the pasta.
- Serve the salad in a big bowl in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves. Put the remaining salad leaves in a separate bowl on the table and serve it all with a zingy, fresh Loire Sauvignon Blanc.
I sometimes think the best recipes come from happy accidents. If you want to check out another of my happy accidents, have a look at my Butternut Squash, Prosciutto and Walnut Pasta – I was trying to follow one of the recipes in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things…only I forgot one of the 3 good things…!