Recipe of the week: A pesto variation: Cilantro and pepitas meet over warm ravioli

Chef Heidi Swanson always has pepitas and other seeds and nuts on hand to add to meals.

I make a point of pulling together a good lunch for myself most every day, said Heidi Swanson in Super Natural Every Day (Ten Speed Press). While I don’t insist that my midday meal be “a fancy affair,” I do think it should “make an attempt at being proper”: I at least have to put aside whatever else is consuming me and “set my sights on a lunch that’s flavorful, nutritious, and thoughtfully prepared.”

To meet those needs, I keep a number of ingredients always on hand, including pepitas (hulled and roasted pumpkin seeds). Like other seeds and nuts—walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, poppy seeds, almonds, pine nuts, and both white and black sesame seeds—pepitas make a great quick addition to many simple, nutritious meals.

In the “zesty” pasta salad described below, pepitas combine well with chopped black olives and the cilantro I use for the pesto. The salad works nicely as a simple lunch, but it doubles as a great potluck dish for dinner. Though I like preparing it using ravioli that have a red pepper and chard filling, the variety of ravioli you choose hardly matters. “If you can imagine the filling going well with the cilantro pesto,” it probably will.

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Recipe of the week

Ravioli salad with black olives and pepitas

¹/³ cup pepitas, toasted, plus more for garnish

1 cup lightly packed cilantro stems

and leaves

¹/³ cup Parmesan cheese

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

²/³ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Fine-grain sea salt

16 oz fresh or frozen ravioli

½ cup black olives, pitted and torn or chopped

Thyme or chive flowers to garnish (optional)

Bring large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, prepare the cilantro pesto: Combine pepitas, cilantro, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, and a splash of olive oil. Blend with an immersion blender (or food processor or standard blender) until smooth. Continue blending as you gradually drizzle in remaining olive oil, until pesto comes together into a vibrant green sauce. Taste and add salt or more lemon juice, if needed.

When water boils, salt generously, add ravioli, and boil until they float and are cooked through, usually just 1 or 2 minutes. Drain immediately. While ravioli are still hot, toss with a big spoonful of pesto. Allow pesto to soak in a bit. Then add another ½ cup of pesto along with most of the black olives. Toss well, but gently, and then decide whether you want to add more pesto.

Turn everything out into a large bowl or platter and sprinkle with remaining olives, pepitas, and flowers. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6.

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