Primavera pasta salad with grilled halloumi & watercress pesto dressing

Primavera pasta salad with grilled halloumi & watercress pesto dressing. Pasta salad is the perfect vehicle for showcasing the delicate flavours of Spring vegetables. It is also good for reinvigorating leftovers, introducing new ingredients to fussy eaters and is a great dish for picnics and packed lunches. Halloumi cheese is a salty, Greek cheese which takes on a rich almost meaty flavour when you cook it and has the added virtue of keeping its shape and not melting. This combination of pasta, vegetables, herbs and cheese makes a nutritionally balanced meal with an interesting contrast of textures and flavours.

Serves 4

250g dried wholemeal pasta shapes of your choice. Bows or spirals work well 250g asparagus,
250g fresh or frozen peas
250g spring radishes, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
250 low fat Halloumi cheese, cut into 8 slices and soaked in water to remove excess salt Olive oil

For the pesto blend together the following:

1 bunch of watercress, wash the cress and remove any very woody stems
2 cloves of garlic, more or less depending on your taste for pungent flavours 3 tablespoons of pitted green olives
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste

1. Heat a large pan of water with 1 tsp salt until boiling.

2. Add the pasta and cook as per instructions on the packet and then drain and cool in fresh water. Drain again and mix with 2 tsp of oil so that the pasta doesn’t stick together.

3. Place a metal colander or steamer on top of the pasta and steam the asparagus and peas until tender. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain again and put aside to cool.

4. Mix the pasta, raw and cooked vegetables together and dress with the pesto and transfer onto a large serving dish.

5. Drain the cheese and dry with kitchen paper. Heat a non stick pan and brush lightly with oil. Cook the cheese on both sides until browned and crispy lay on top of the pasta salad before serving.