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Whether you know Geoffrey Zakarian from judging Food Network's Chopped, as an iconic Iron Chef or hosting The Kitchen, he's been a fixture in our homes — and inspiration in our kitchens — for decades. But despite being totally at home on a TV screen, his favorite place in the world is a bit more colorful: The Mediterranean.
The region served as inspiration for the Iron Chef from childhood.
"My mom was a great cook," Zakarian shared with Yahoo Life. "So when I went to France in my early twenties — French-Mediterranean, south of France and Italy — all that food just resonated with me. It's the taste I remember from my childhood."
Mediterranean cuisine is more than just delicious, however — to Zakarian, it's a way of life. The fitness-minded chef relies heavily on those ingredients for his own meals and to keep him in shape.
"Exercise is very important," he noted. "But if you exercise and don't eat right, it's not going to matter. That's why I love to cook with [Mediterranean] ingredients. I love to incorporate [them] into all my meals — almost all of them are Mediterranean in style."
One of his go-to recipes? An easy summer pasta salad that's perfect for entertaining. The Mediterranean-inspired dish is anything but basic and oh-so-delicious.
Here's what you need to get started:
Arugula pesto ingredients:
Genova yellowfin tuna pasta salad with dates:
Start with blanching your arugula in ice water — it'll give your pesto that beautiful green color. Next, put it in a food prep machine and follow with pine nuts, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and lemon zest. Add a touch of butter, a clove of garlic, and finish with a "very generous" amount of olive oil.
Once all your ingredients are added, blend your ingredients until they're creamy. Set aside.
While Zakarian shares that any kind of pasta will do for this recipe, he loves using whole wheat orecchiette (which means "little ears" in Italian). Next, add your Genova Premium Tuna — Zakarian is a paid spokesperson for the brand — and you can also receive a free meal kit with the chef's recipe. Follow with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, slivered dates and finish with dried parsley and dried dill. Finally, toss the salad with your "magic" pesto. Be generous with it!
"Fresh, simple, great ingredients," Zakarian enthused. "Great protein, like Genova Premium Tuna. This is how I want to eat the rest of my life."
Video produced by Katarina Vasquez.
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