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Jamie Simpson, the executive chef of The Culinary Vegetable Institute, works alongside Rach's good friend Farmer Lee Jones at The Chef's Garden, a farm-to-table produce delivery company. The pair visited Rachael at her home in Tuscany this summer and shared a delicious meal featuring produce from the garden. Jamie whipped up this colorful and vibrant-tasting pasta salad using every part of the zucchini plant, including the leaves, the stems below the leaves and the blossoms. If you don't have access to a zucchini plant, simply use kale leaves instead of zucchini leaves and add a little more zucchini to replace the stems. The blossoms are a nice touch, but the salad will still be great without them.
Pro Tip from Jamie: Feel free to make the salad ahead of time. It gets even better as it marinates.
For the pesto, heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and lightly fry until they start to crack, then allow the mixture to cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor, add the blanched leaves and the remaining ¾ cup oil and process until smooth, adding more oil if needed. Add the cheese and salt, seasoning aggressively, then set aside.
For the salad, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, add the pesto and toss well. Top with additional cheese and/or herbs (if using).