I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hot fun in the (not quite) summertime


The parents' anniversary was this week (53 years?!!) so we had a cookout instead of taking them to the no-reservations belly-up-to-the-trough steakhouse (just fine with me). It was a beautiful day if you ignored the gale force winds, so we did the grill stuff outside and the eating stuff inside.

Since I don't eat meat (and everyfreakinbody else in the family does), for family events my contribution is usually a baked pasta in the winter and a salad pasta in the warmer months.

Pasta salads are much maligned in the 'proper' culinary circles, I gather, but tough noogies. I love me some pasta salad almost any time of year. You really don't need a formal recipe for pasta salads, as they are the dish of choice to accommodate almost anything you might have on hand, but this is my latest favorite combo for a hot climate, Mediterranean type bowl o' noodles. And my new favorite noodle for salads is cellentani. Very sturdy and a fun shape to boot.

I (gasp!!!) ran out of extra virgin olive oil while making the salad so I used a mayo-olive oil combo for the dressing. Straight EVOO would work too, and would be more traditional.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Dressing:
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic granules or 1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. of pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. milk, broth, or water, or as needed to thin dressing

Salad:
1 lb. cellentani, rotini, or other robust pasta shape, cooked just barely al dente, and drained
1 cup diced bell pepper (mixed colors if available)
1 cup seeded, diced, and well drained tomatoes; or cherry tomatoes, cut in half; or ½ cup reconstituted, chopped, sun dried tomatoes
½ cup sliced black olives (mild, canned olives, well rinsed and drained, are fine)
½ cup diced red onion
½ cup toasted pine nuts or minced/crushed walnuts
½ cup shredded Parmesan style cheese, vegan or dairy (optional)

¼ cup slivered basil leaves, to serve

Whisk dressing ingredients in a bowl, correcting consistency with milk, broth, or water if necessary.
Combine cooked pasta through toasted pine nuts in a large bowl, fold in dressing, and blend all ingredients thoroughly.
Mix well, taste, and correct seasonings.
Chill to blend flavors.
Toss with slivered basil leaves just before serving.