Deli cabinet pasta salad with chilli, parmesan and sunflower seed dressing

Raid the deli cabinet for this adaptable pasta salad.
Raid the deli cabinet for this adaptable pasta salad. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Difficulty
Easy
Dietary
Vegetarian

The key here is in the quality of the ingredients – a decent mix of deli goods will maximise the flavour. The sunflower seed dressing is the kind of dressing that gets along with everyone – exactly what you want with all the layers of flavour going on here. I've also left the oil in the dressing fairly variable – the key is to add it slowly, you want just enough to coat everything without drowning it in dressing.

Ingredients

250g rigatoni

2 cups mixed deli vegetables*, roughly chopped (I used smoked semi-dried tomatoes, dried Greek olives and feta-stuffed olives)

1 bunch broccolini, blanched and refreshed, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped

½ red chilli, deseeded, finely sliced

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, coarsely torn

½ cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Dressing

¾ cup sunflower seeds

½ cup grated parmesan

1 tsp chilli flakes

½-1 cup excellent quality olive oil

Method

1. To make the dressing, add the sunflower seeds, parmesan and chilli flakes to a mortar and pestle and give a quick, rough crush – you don't want to pulp it, you just want the oils to release from the seeds and get acquainted with the cheese. Scrape into a bowl and add ½ cup of the olive oil. Stir to combine and set aside. You can also season with salt and pepper, and add more oil depending on the oiliness of your chosen deli veg.

2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to packet instructions. Strain and add to a large bowl while still warm, with the deli vegetables, broccolini, almonds and chilli. Stir gently to combine.

3. When ready to serve, add the herbs then slowly drizzle over the dressing. Sometimes the deli vegetables can be quite oily – you don't want this to drown, but enough dressing to add extra oomph and flavour. Serve at room temperature. Any leftovers hold amazingly well covered tightly in the fridge for 1-2 days.

*I kept it fairly simple with the deli goods but outside of what I used here, you could include grilled and marinated eggplant, charred pumpkin and roasted peppers – all would work well. 

Find more of Katrina Meynink's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.

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