Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad

Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad Recipe

Radiatore pasta look very similar to rotini shaped pasta but they're shorter, with a ruffled edge. Whenever I cook this particular shape of pasta, I know the dish will be devoured. There is just something about the shape of this pasta that kids love. And grown-ups who are like kids, like my Lulu, love it as well. 

We planned a last-minute picnic and I needed to come up with a quick and tasty dish that everyone could enjoy. Pasta salad is always a crowd pleaser and with the help of my sisters-in-law, I threw together the radiatore pasta with a cilantro lime cashew pesto sauce, with some roasted walnuts added for texture. To this, I incorporated vegetables, specifically broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes. I had bought really cute perlini mozzarella balls and I added them to the dish, because who can say no to cheese?

For the non-vegetarians, there was some smoked salmon. I like smoked salmon in pasta salad because it works so well cold and is tastier than canned tuna or boiled chicken.


Yields: 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) package radiatore pasta (I used tri-color pasta)
1/3 cup walnuts, dry roasted (check tips)
3 cups cilantro (about 1 bunch), tightly packed
1 lime
1/2 cup cashew nuts, dry roasted, coarsely chopped (check tips)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large jalapeƱo chile, roasted, skinned, seeded, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 teaspoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
4 ounces perlini fresh mozarella cheese (pearl-sized bites), drained
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, coarsely chopped
2 zucchini, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 large broccoli florets


For the lime: Zest and juice the lime. Set aside.

For the cilantro lime cashew pesto: Wash the cilantro. Quickly blanch it for about 10 seconds in boiling salted water and transfer to an ice bath, to maintain a bright green color. Drain thoroughly of all water and pat dry on paper towels. Coarsely chop the cilantro.

In a blender (or a mini-food prep if you have one, see tips), mix the cilantro, jalapeño, cashews, ground coriander seeds, olive oil, garlic, 1/3 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the juice of half the lime. Set aside.

For the radiatore pasta: Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the radiatore pasta, bring back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked all the way through evenly. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt (with 2/3 teaspoon) the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and the pasta will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so that the pasta does not stick to the bottom. It may take longer than the cooking time that is written on the box. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), transfer the radiatore to a large flat platter. Add the remaining lime juice and its zest. Season with the remaining salt. Let the pasta cool to room temperature.

For the zucchini and broccoli: Blanch the zucchini in about a quart of salted boiling water. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the broccoli. Cook for another 2 minutes. Strain and immediately transfer the greens into a cold water bath. Pat dry on a towel. Cut the broccoli florets into small bite-sized pieces.

Assembly time: In a large serving bowl, combine the radiatore pasta, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, diced bell pepper, zucchini and broccoli and cilantro lime cashew pesto. Toss well. Plastic-wrap the bowl, and chill it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serve at room temperature. Add the roasted walnuts at the last minute for extra crunch.

Bon appétit!


Little reminder on how to roast jalapeño peppers: it's the same method as roasting bell peppers. Once you know how to make them yourself, you'll never buy the ones in a jar again. To start, cut the stem off the jalapeño. Wash it, pat it dry, then brush it with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the jalapeño. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Clean the chile using a knife; the skin will come right off. Seed it, then finely chop the flesh. Voilà!

For the pesto: I've used 3 mini-food preps so far and the mini Cuisinart is definitely my favorite one. Don't get tempted into buying the slightly bigger size. I made the mistake of buying one of these larger processors because it was about the same price but I ended up returning it.  The problem is that the ingredients won't grind as finely as they o in the mini. I would advise you to get the mini-prep for your sauces and the 14-cup one for your bigger jobs. There is no need to get the models in between. They'll just clutter your kitchen.

I always make extra to store in the freezer. If you make an extra batch of pesto, you can store the rest in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. I transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into bags that I vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer for future use. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I keep them exactly the same way I would do with extra meat tenderizer for poultry. You can store the pesto in your freezer for up to 6 months or for 2 weeks in your refrigerator.

I found perlini mozarella cheese at my local market. If you don't have any, just cut the mozzarella into pearl-sized pieces.

How to roast nuts: To release all the flavor and oil of the nuts, I like to roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 325°F before using them. The only nuts that I dry roast on the stove are pine nuts. They are smaller, cook more quickly and are much easier to watch and manipulate on the stove top.

The key to a good pasta salad is to have a homogeneous mixture. All the vegetables should be the same size as the radiatore pasta.

You can store the pasta in the refrigerator if you make the dish in advance. Just make sure to remove the pasta from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

radiatore pasta salad

smoked slamon recipe with picture
For the non-vegetarians, there was some smoked salmon.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on August 12, 2009.


[-] Just gorgeous - Guest-Marisela
I've never had a cashew pesto before. We're having a picnic this weekend, and I'm definitely going to try it out. Thanks Jackie!
[ Posted at 11:51 AM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] yum! - Guest-VeggieGirl
Oooh, the cashew pesto variety sounds delicious!!

VeggieGirl Website Link
[ Posted at 1:21 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad - Guest-TheDuoDishes566
Heading off to eat a little cashew snack just because you mentioned them. Great use for those nuts in pasta.

The Duo Dishes Website Link
[ Posted at 1:40 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
What cute pasta, I can see why it's so popular! Your cashew pesto sounds amazing too!

Kerstin Website Link
[ Posted at 2:27 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
What a gorgeous pasta salad. I love all the different colors!

Barbara Website Link
[ Posted at 4:01 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Give your dog a makeover - Guest-Wizzythestick
I love salads like this that are complete meals-no other dishes needed.

Wizzythestick Website Link
[ Posted at 6:33 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
i love this shape of pasta! also all your veggies are awesome. cashews are probably my favorite nut. jalapeno is a totally sweet addition too!

veggievixen Website Link
[ Posted at 6:38 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad - Guest-LorraineNotQuiteNigella
I've never seent his shape of pasta before but it looks amazing! I must look out for it, thanks so much!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella Website Link
[ Posted at 6:53 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad - Guest-TheFoodHunter
This is perfect...both quick and delicious.

The Food Hunter Website Link
[ Posted at 7:28 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Radiatore - Guest-JessicaFoodmayhem
I didn't know that it was called radiatore but I do like that shape alot! It holds sauce in it's ruffles.

Jessica@Foodmayhem Website Link
[ Posted at 8:20 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Wow - Guest-Miakoda
Retro pasta! I've never seen these gorgeous shapes before :) This dish looks so healthy and crunchy and yummy. Superb!

Miakoda Website Link
[ Posted at 8:27 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Hello - Guest-Katherine582
I was just reading your post and I thought Radiatore was Radiator. I was laughing so loud. I'm going to try this recipe. I love Vegetarian food. By the way thanks for all your comments on my blog. I appreciate it.

Katherine Website Link
[ Posted at 11:21 PM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]
[-] Radiatore - Jackie
This pasta is actually called radiatore because it resembles a radiator
[ Posted at 12:37 AM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
[-] Cashew pesto - Guest-HeavenlyHousewife
Looks wonderful, and that pasta shape is so cute. I love cashews.

Heavenly Housewife Website Link
[ Posted at 12:38 AM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
[-] Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad - Guest-Jenofa2eatwrite
I love the different take on this with the cilantro lime dressing and the nuts! I will definitely try this when I'm a little less farm-share driven.

Jen of a2eatwrite Website Link
[ Posted at 5:30 AM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
I love adding nuts into my salads!

Daziano Website Link
[ Posted at 7:15 AM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
[-] Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad - Guest-Natasha5StarFoodie
Gorgeous pasta salad! I love this pasta shape and cilantro lime cashew pesto sounds terrific!

Natasha - 5 Star Foodie Website Link
[ Posted at 9:48 AM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
I love how you used 3 different types of nuts in your pasta! The combination of all the ingredients sound so good and I love how radiatore pasta kinda soaks up all the flavors in the grooves!

Cookie Website Link
[ Posted at 10:29 AM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
[-] Cashew Pesto Radiatore Pasta Salad - Guest-IrinaPastryPal
The curly pasta is my favorite shape, too. I think it's because so many yummy things get trapped in them. And great idea to use smoked salmon. I can imagine the flavor really stands out. Very interesting combination of ingredients.

Irina @ PastryPal Website Link
[ Posted at 12:38 PM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
I first had that shape pasta in a little Italian restaurant in NYC and was hooked! I love the look of it and I love how it captures sauce. This dish sounds so interesting and, seeing as we love cilantro at our house, I'm sure it would be a hit!

Dana Website Link
[ Posted at 4:49 PM on 8/13/09 | Reply ]
Hi jacqueline, this pasta salad look so lovely! Came over here trying to find a healthy salad recipe:)

I'm hosting Presto pasta Nights this week on my blog. It'd be great if you could participate by sending in this lovely recipe!:)

Mansi Website Link
[ Posted at 12:37 PM on 6/24/10 | Reply ]

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Banh Mi

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