Deconstructed Pesto Salad

July  7, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Combine the basic ingredients for a classic pesto – basil, walnuts, hard Italian cheese and the best olive oil you can get your hands on – with simple leaf lettuce; then, toss it with an anchovy-laced citrus vinaigrette. Enjoy! ;o) —AntoniaJames

What You'll Need
  • 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and flattened with a large knife
  • 1 small anchovy, or ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 cup, loosely packed, of basil leaves
  • 3 or 4 drops of honey
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • ¾ to 1 cup walnut halves (to taste)
  • ½ cup shaved parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano
  • 1 small head each of red and green leaf lettuce
  • A handful of wild rocket or arugula
  • (If in season) A handful of cherry tomatoes (optional) or, in winter, a small handful of dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  1. In a small bowl, lightly mash the garlic a few times with the back of a fork, and add the olive oil. Set the bowl aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast the walnuts on the top shelf of the oven for about three minutes, more or less, depending on your oven. Check them after two minutes. Watch very carefully, lest they burn. Once you remove the toasted nuts from the oven, put them immediately into a bowl, to prevent further cooking.
  3. Rinse and dry the lettuce and arugula and put it in the salad bowl with the tomatoes (or dried cranberries or cherries).
  4. Mash the anchovy with the salt, using the back of a small fork. Put the anchovy (or the paste and the salt, if you’re not using a whole anchovy) into a small jar with a lid; add the lemon juice, lime juice, zest, chopped mint, two large basil leaves, which have been finely chopped, and the honey. Add one tablespoon of cold water.
  5. Remove the garlic from the olive oil and add the oil to the anchovy and lemon mixture. Cover and shake the bottle well. (If you like raw garlic, finely mince and add it to the dressing at this point.) Taste and add more salt or honey, if you think the dressing needs either.
  6. Roll ten or twelve basil leaves together, lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/8 inch; repeat until you've cut all of the remaining basil leaves. Set aside.
  7. About ten minutes before you plan to serve the salad, dress it lightly with the contents of the jar. You may not need all of it, depending on how much lettuce you have, and how heavily you like your salads dressed. Try to err on the side of under-dressing this one, at least to start. Do not add the basil yet, please.
  8. Sprinkle the grated cheese on the dressed greens and toss lightly again.
  9. Immediately before serving, add the walnuts, the basil and some freshly grated black pepper. Toss lightly.
  10. Enjoy!! ;o)

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Recipe by: AntoniaJames

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1 Review

dymnyno July 13, 2010
Wow...that dressing packs a wallop!! I love combining both lemon and lime juices...they are so distinctive.