A good Italian pasta salad goes nowhere near the creamy versions seen at deli counters. This one's brimming with zucchini blossoms and homemade walnut pesto.






Skill level

Average: 2.8 (16 votes)


  • 3 baby zucchini with their blossoms
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 350-400 g farfalle pasta (or any short pasta you like)
  • 400 g tin chickpeas or cannellini beans, rinsed and well drained
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Walnut pesto

  • 1 zucchini, ends trimmed and halved
  • 115 g (1 cup) shelled walnuts
  • ¼ garlic clove
  • 1 cup basil leaves, plus extra leaves for serving
  • ⅓ cup mint leaves, plus extra leaves for serving
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Separate the baby zucchini from their blossoms. Open up the blossoms and remove the stamen within the petals. Set aside. Slice the baby zucchini into thin rounds. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and stir fry the zucchini for 3-5 minutes, then set aside.
2. For the walnut pesto, add the zucchini to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon. Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir well and cook until al dente.

3. While the pasta is cooking, place the zucchini in a food processor with all the other pesto ingredients and blitz until smooth.  Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. Once the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. Rinse the pasta under cold running water until cool. Add to the bowl with the pesto and stir to combine well. If it seems too dry, add some of the reserved cooking water. Add the chickpeas or beans and most of the fried zucchini and toss gently. Transfer to a large serving bowl, top with the remaining fried zucchini and a good sprinkling of lemon zest and ground black pepper. Tear the zucchini blossoms over the top and scatter with a few more mint and basil leaves. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve.  


Silvia Colloca shares her Italian family secrets in the brand-new second-season of Cook like an Italian.