Posts Tagged ‘pasta salads’

Insalata di Farfalle, Zucchine E Pinoli The geometry of pasta involves pairing up the perfect shape with the perfect sauce. According to Caz Hildebrand, co-author of the Geometry of Pasta, doing so, ” . . . makes the difference between pasta dishes that are merely ordinary and truly sublime.” In this recipe, the simple lemon and olive oil dressing lightly coats the farfalle pasta, also known outside of Italy as bow-tie pasta. The fragrance and flavors of briefly sautéed slices of zucchini, shreds of fresh basil and Italian parsley, and toasted pine nuts combine to make this recipe “truly sublime.” As a matter of fact, I give it a four “S” rating for Super Special Summer Salad.

Insalata di Farfalle, Zucchine e Pinoli
The Geometry of Pasta

1/2 pound farfalle
3 smallish, firm zucchini (2/3 pound), thinly sliced in 2-4-millimeter rounds
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup pine nuts
Oil for frying the pine nuts
A small handful each of basil and flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely shredded
Grated Parmesan, to serve, (optional)

1. Boil the farfalle until cooked as you would like them, then drain and cool under cold running water.

2. Heat a frying pan until very, very hot over a high flame. Add the zucchini, then 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil, and a little salt. Sauté for a minute or so. When half-cooked, a few nicely browned, add the garlic and cook for a minute more. When still just underdone, turn off the heat, and leave in the pan to finish cooking. The zucchini should be partly coloured, fully cooked but still slightly crunchy, and nicely dry.

3. Make a dressing of the lemon zest, juice, and remaining 4½ tablespoons of olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. To toast the pine nuts cover them with oil in a small pan and fry over a medium heat until pale amber.

5. When the zucchini and pine nuts have cooled to room temperature, toss with the pasta, herbs, and dressing.

6. Best left to stand for 20 minutes before eating plain or with a light grating of Parmesan.

1. Try to slice the zucchini so that the slices are uniformly thick. This helps to ensure that they are cooked evenly.

2. I drained the toasted pine nuts on a paper towel-lined plate. The next time I make this, I will use less oil to fry the pine nuts.

3. Before serving, I topped the dish with some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and I also served some in a small bowl on the side for those who wanted more.


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Wanting to make a light pasta dish to accompany some freshly grilled fish, I prepared a simple noodle salad with subtle Asian undertones. Unlike the Shrimp and Bean-Thread Salad I posted about a while back, this noodle salad is simpler to make, because it has fewer ingredients. Although, it lacks the complexity of flavors that the Bean-Thread Salad has, it makes up for it with its clean fresh flavors and its ease of preparation. It’s a delicious side dish for grilled seafood or grilled chicken and this recipe makes enough to feed a small crowd.

Asian Noodle Salad

Dressing Ingredients:
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Asian red chili paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

Salad Ingredients:
16 ounces dried rice noodles
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

1. Combine salad dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. Fill a kettle full of water and bring it to a boil. If you don’t have a kettle use a large pot to boil water.
3. Open up the package of noodles and place the noodles in a large mixing bowl.
4. Carefully pour the hot water over the noodles until they are completely submerged. After two minutes, very carefully stir the noodles to loosen up the noodle bundle. Stir periodically and make sure all noodles remain submerged.
5. When noodles are limp, taste a few to make sure they are cooked (or softened) enough. The noodles should be firm, but not hard and chewy or soft and mushy. Let soak a few minutes longer if they are not yet ready, checking them every couple of minutes.
6. When the noodles are tender, drain them in a colander and let cold water run over them.
7. After they are well-drained, pour the noodles into a bowl and immediately pour the salad dressing over them. Toss gently with your hands.
8. Add the grated carrots, chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts. Toss gently and serve.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. This salad tastes best when eaten fresh. Rice noodles tend to absorb any liquid available and then dry out. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
2. In lieu of steps 2 through 4, you can bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the noodles and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring and checking them for the right degree of tenderness.
3. My family likes spicy food, so I either add a bit more chili sauce to the dressing mixture or I sprinkle in some red pepper flakes.
4. To make this a main dish, cooked prawns, grilled salmon, or grilled chicken breast strips can be easily tossed in during the last step.
5. Buy Asian chili paste that has chili flakes floating in it.
6. This recipe makes enough to fill a large mixing bowl.


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