This layered pecan pasta salad is an elegant but easy side or main dish. Perfect to serve when hosting a gathering or attending a special occasion, it can easily be customized with seasonal ingredients. This version combines fresh vegetables, oranges, cheese and pecans for a light and bright pasta salad dish.
- 1/4 cup salt
- 12 ounces orecchiette pasta, or other small pasta
- 4 cups of radicchio, thinly sliced
- 1 cup halved marinated olives (Kalamata and green)
- 1/2 cup marinated artichoke, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 cup pecan pieces, plus optional pecan halves for garnish
- 3/4 cup chopped parsley or mint (or both)
- 6 ounces feta cheese
- 1 cara cara orange, cut into slices
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- Lemon vinaigrette and fresh-cracked pepper (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1/4 cup of salt. When water is bubbling, add in pasta, allow water to come back to a boil, then start timer for about 10 minutes. When pasta is cooked, el dente, drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
- In a large, clear bowl, layer half of the radicchio on the bottom. Sprinkle half of the olives, artichoke, and tomato on top. Next, spread out half of the pasta, 1/2 cup of pecan pieces, half of the parsley, 3 ounces of crumbled feta, and the orange slices.
- Add the spinach, then repeat layering steps with the radicchio, olives, artichoke, tomato, pasta, pecan pieces, parsley, feta, and orange.
- If using the dressing, add to your taste after layering is complete.*
- Crack with fresh pepper and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.
*Recipe note: Dressing is a nice touch, but it isn’t necessary, with all of the oils and vinegars from the marinated ingredients.