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Will Leigh be our Captain’s Cook Off Champion? Melbourne Victory‘s A-League Champions, Leigh Broxham was the masterchef behind the Medditerranean Pesto Pasta Salad in our Captain’s Cook Off and if you’re watching thinking, “Damn, I want to make that myself,” now you can!

But first, why did we choose Moroccan Lamb & Vegetable Cous-Cous for Leigh? According to our Director of Dietetics, Peta, the Pesto Pasta Salad is a great, healthy option because it includes cold pasta – not only an easy source of carbohydrate to fuel active bodies but also increases the resistant starch (the gut boosting fibre) to keep your gut happy, full and satisfied. Plus, the addition of a range of coloured veggies (cooked and fresh) offer a variety of different nutrients – particularly important for mental acuity and recovery.

Mediterranean Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 450g wholemeal or pulse pasta (fusilli, penne or farfalle)
  • 450g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, cut in 2cm dices
  • 200g baby spinach or rocket
  • ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 50g Crumbled feta cheese (20g extra to serve)

Pesto

  • ½ cup pine-nuts (can use cashews or almonds)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ -1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about ½ cup pasta cooking water, then drain and immediately rinse the pasta under cool water to prevent the pasta from sticking and transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.
  2. Whilst the pasta is cooking make the pesto: In a small frypan, toast the nuts over medium heat, stirring often, until just browning. Transfer half to a small bowl for garnish later and the remainder into a food processor.
  3. Add the basil, parsley, lemon juice, cheese, garlic and salt. Process while slowly drizzling in the olive oil, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary, until the nuts have broken down, keep a little chunky.
  4. To assemble the pasta salad, pour all of the pesto over the pasta and toss until the pasta is lightly coated, adding a tiny splash of reserved pasta cooking water if necessary to thin it out. Then add the cherry tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, olives, chickpeas and fetta.
  5. Toss again to combine, then season to taste with pepper. If the pasta needs a little more flavour, add salt or lemon juice to taste.
  6. Garnish with the remaining nuts and extra feta to serve.

Mediterranean Pesto Pasta Salad Nutrition Stats

Nutrient Per serve
Energy 3244kJ
Protein 27.3g
Carbohydrates (total) 77.0g
Sugar 5.1g
Fat (total) 34.9g
Saturated fat 5.5g
Dietary Fibre 19.5g

Watch Leigh show you how it’s done and enter the Captain’s Cook Off competition at this link!