Pasta salads are a summer staple, and so simple to prepare, making them the perfect dish to take along to a BBQ or picnic. We gently brown our courgettes beforehand, so that they get a slightly sweet, charred flavour from frying. The combination of Gigli Pasta, asparagus, browned courgettes, toasted walnuts, rocket and lemon zest is tied together with the fresh, basil flavour of our Traditional Genovese Pesto.
Slice the courgettes into 1 cm rounds, place in a bowl and season with salt (this draws out the water) and leave for 20 minutes. Pat dry with paper towel. Place a frying pan on a high heat and when hot add 2tbsp olive oil, then add carefully add the courgettes. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until a dark golden brown, turning the heat down if starting to get too dark. Turnover and cook for another 3-4 minutes, then remove and place on paper towel. You may need to work in batches when doing this and if so, you may need more olive oil.
Whilst the courgettes are salting, heat your oven to 175C fan/195C non-fan/gas mark 5. When hot, place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy, then take out and allow to cool.
Place a large pan of salted water on a high heat and bring to the boil. Snap the woody lower part off from the asparagus stems and once the water is boiling, add to the pan. Cook for 2-4 minutes depending on how thick it is but stop cooking before it gets very soft. Remove from the pan and refresh in iced or very cold water for 5 minutes, then remove, pat dry and cut into 3-4cm pieces.
Add the Gigli to the water and cook for 9 mins. Drain, allow to steam dry for a minute or two then separate out and drizzle with oil to prevent sticking.
To assemble, mix the pesto with 3tbsp olive oil and stir to combine. Put the pasta, courgettes, asparagus, and rocket into a large mixing bowl, then crumble the walnuts on top. Cut the lemon half and squeeze the juice of 1 half all over everything, season with a little salt and mix to combine. Add the pesto dressing and toss quickly to coat. Taste again and add more lemon or salt as desired. Serve straight away or if making ahead, mix everything together, including the dressing, but add the rocket and walnuts just before serving.