Posts Tagged ‘pasta salad’

Cavatappi withSpinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese

Part green salad and part pasta salad, but all parts delicious and fresh! Pair this Italian-influenced salad with rustic artisan bread for a quick and healthy meatless supper or throw it together for easy entertaining. With only nine simple ingredients, this salad is big on taste and big on convenience.

Cavatappi With Spinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese
The Best of Cooking Light

8 cups coarsely chopped spinach
4 cups hot cooked cavatappi (about 6 ounces uncooked spiral-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Cavatappi is also known as cellentani, spirali or tortiglione.
2. Maybe I packed too much chopped spinach into each cup while measuring it out, but this made much more than 4 servings.
3. I thinly shaved the Asiago instead of shredding it.
4. In a side note, the recipe states, “The warm cavatappi slightly wilts the spinach and softens the cheese during tossing.”


Update (6/24/13): I made this salad again, but with some substitutions and additions.  I used cavatelli instead of cavatappi and replaced the regular olive oil with Meyer lemon infused olive oil. Cherry tomatoes, fresh off the vine, were sliced in half and added to the salad along with some toasted pine nuts. Very nice!

Read Full Post »

The directions state, “Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before serving.” Yeah, right – like that’s going to happen! You will be hard-pressed to follow those directions after stirring the thick spicy sauce into the noodles. And after sprinkling fresh red peppers, carrots, green onions, cilantro leaves, and fragrant, toasted, sesame seeds over the saucy noodles, you’ll forget you even read the directions! This is a wonderful party dish because it can be made ahead and because it can be made to serve a few people or a crowd. For a fun presentation, serve the noodles in small Asian take-out cartons with a pair of disposable chopsticks tucked into each carton!

Bun Bun Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Recipe by Margaret S. Fox, former owner/chef of Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino

10-oz. dry pasta – spaghetti or angel hair
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup low-salt soy sauce
1 tsp. chile pepper flakes
3 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
3 tbsp. corn oil

Garnishes: slivered carrots, green onions, red peppers, toasted sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, fresh cilantro

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until done, then drain and rinse with cold water until the noodles are cold. Let noodles drain for about 10 minutes.

2. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients until thoroughly blended. (You could heat the mixture very slightly to facilitate whisking, or set the bowl over the steam rising from the cooking pasta for a few minutes.)

3. Toss the noodles with the sauce. Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before serving, or refrigerate and serve within 2 days. Always toss noodles before serving to distribute sauce evenly.

4. To serve, place a mound of noodles on plate and garnish with your choice of any or all of the pretty crunchy additions listed above.

Serves 4-6

Linnell’s Notes:
1. As the noodles and sauce sit, the flavors of the sauce meld together. Wait to adjust the seasonings until the noodles have sat in the sauce for quite awhile. I was tempted to add more pepper flakes, but was so glad I didn’t!

2. In the recipe Margaret S. Fox suggests using the least adulterated kind of peanut butter available.

3. I found it was not necessary to heat the sauce mixture in order to stir it.

4. If serving this as a main dish, protein in the form of shredded chicken or firm tofu could be added.


Read Full Post »

Here’s another quick summertime dish that’s a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats or is perfect by itself for lunch. It’s a pasta salad that involves only a few steps to make, is full of flavor, tastes better the next day, makes use of sweet summer produce, and is great to take to potlucks or picnics. What more could anyone want? It’s been almost thirty years since I clipped this recipe out of a small town, local newspaper, but it has stood the test of time. I’m asked for this recipe just as frequently now as I was when I first started preparing it!

Spaghetti Salad
Adapted by Linnell

1 pound package spaghetti
8 oz. Wishbone Italian Dressing
McCormick’s Salad Supreme
1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 orange or yellow pepper, diced
2-3 oz. black olives, sliced

1.  Sprinkle 1/4 package of Good Seasons Italian dressing mix into the bottle of Wishbone dressing and shake to mix. Let sit. Seal the remainder of the package for use at another time.

2.  Cook the spaghetti noodles until al dente. Do not overcook. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Pour on the salad dressing while the noodles are still warm. Toss.

3. Add tomatoes, onion, peppers, and olives. Toss. Sprinkle 1/3 jar (or to taste) Salad Supreme and toss again. Chill until serving.

Note: I’ve found this recipe to be adaptable and forgiving. It’s difficult to botch it up and almost anything can be added to it. For variety, I’ve added a combination of the following ingredients to create an antipasto-type salad: quartered artichoke hearts (marinated or packed in water), diced pepperoncini, sliced mushrooms, and salami, cut into thin strips.

Hope this recipe stays in your recipe files as long as it has stayed in mine! Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

There’s a wonderful little bakery and cafe not too far away from my home that serves an interesting Mediterranean-type pasta salad that I order every time I’m there.  There’s a subtle sweet, spicy, and salty juxtaposition of flavors in the salad dressing that has had me playing detective trying to dissect its complexity.  I’ve been playing around with ingredients and I think I’ve got it pretty close to the original salad now –  but knowing me, I will continue to tweak this recipe long after this post is printed!

This recipe uses orecchiette, which is a kind of pasta typically made in Puglia, a region of Southern Italy. In Italian, “orecchio”, means ear, and the suffix “etto” means small. If the thought of “small ears” on your plate creates a bad visual for you, then think of this pasta as resembling “small hats” instead! These slightly domed ovals have centers that are thinner than their rims, creating dense and somewhat chewy pasta. Orecchiette is perfect for pasta salad, because it’s sturdy enough to be tossed around and it catches and holds the tantalizing dressing.

Here’s my basic recipe for Orecchiette Pasta Salad. It’s the type of recipe that is adaptable to many variations. Here are some of my ideas for variations:

*Add some citrus into the dressing
*Toss in some cubed or crumbled feta cheese
*Substitute sweet golden raisins for the currants
*Toss in some thinly sliced prosciutto

My Orecchiette Pasta Salad:
Note: The amounts listed for the ingredients can be easily reduced or added upon depending on taste.

Salad Ingredients:

1 pound of orecchietta
12 ounces sweet grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2/3 cup red onion, chopped
1-1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
2/3 cup currants
2/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Bunch of basil, chiffonade leaves

Dressing Ingredients:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 – 1 tsp curry powder
1/4 -1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp season salt
¼ tsp paprika


  1. Following the package directions, cook the orecchiette until al dente. While cooking make sure you stir the orecchiette frequently to prevent the pieces from “nesting” into each other and forming doughy globs. Drain in colander.
  2. Make salad dressing by whisking all salad dressing ingredients into a small bowl. Set aside for flavors to meld.
  3. Slice olives and tomatoes and set aside.
  4. Chop red onion and set aside.
  5. Lightly toast the pine nuts in a heavy frying pan, making sure to keep an eye on them constantly – the oil in them can burn quickly. Let cool.
  6. Rinse the basil leaves and blot them dry. Chiffonade the basil leaves by stacking the leaves, rolling them lengthwise (like a cigar) and then cutting them crosswise into long, thin strips. Set aside.
  7. Put the cooked orecchiette in a large bowl. Add the rest of the salad ingredients except for the basil.
  8. Whisk the dressing again and then pour it into the salad ingredients. Toss all together. Sprinkle the basil on top and gently toss again.

This salad will taste better the next day after the flavors have a chance to blend and soak in. It is best served at room temperature.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: