Fancy Pants Pasta Salad

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant

Welcome to Claire's

By Claire Criscuolo

Published 2014

  • About

A favorite manager of ours, Kathleen, always comes up with fun names for her dishes, such as “Top Notch” and “Fancy Pants.” Whenever a recipe has “fancy” ingredients she refers to the dish as Fancy Pants. Saffron is expensive, incredibly flavorful, and indeed fancy.


  • salt
  • 1 pound organic Italian pasta (I like to use Bionaturae gobetti)
  • 2 cups fresh green peas or defrosted frozen green peas
  • 1 12-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained
  • 4 local plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • ¼ pound local baby arugula
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
  • 6 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about ½ lemon)
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Bring 8 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil in a large covered pot over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente or to your preference. If using fresh peas, add the peas to the pasta during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta (and the fresh peas, if using). Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain again. Turn the drained pasta into a large bowl. If using defrosted peas, add to the pasta. Add the chickpeas, plum tomatoes, and arugula. Using two wooden spoons, toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Place the pinch of saffron in a small bowl. Add the hot water and set aside. Place the garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the bell pepper, tarragon, and grape tomatoes. Cover and process for about 20 seconds until finely minced. Add the saffron with the hot water, using a rubber spatula to scrape every expensive drop; then, with the motor running, add the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Process for about 10 seconds until well blended. Taste for seasonings.
  3. Turn this mixture over the pasta salad, using a rubber spatula to scrape the processor bowl. Using two wooden spoons, toss to coat the salad and to combine. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Toss again just before serving.