Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pasta Salad With A Rainbow Of Vegetables

A lovely pasta salad with a bounty of colorful vegetables to celebrate Earth Day! Use your own favorite combination of vegetables - here is one of mine. Great for lunch bags too :)!

A fabulous variation is to use Pesto (homemade or store-bought) with a little more  olive oil to dilute it and use this to dress the salad instead of other dressing.

8 main dish servings; Each serving as prepared below contains: 320 Calories; 13 g Protein; 8.5 g Fat; 12.8 g Fiber; and 46 g Carbohydrates.

Ingredients:

1 lb Multi grain Pasta, any short type like penne or rotelle
Salt to taste
1 large clove Garlic, chopped
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Orange or Red Bell Pepper (Capsicum)
1 Yellow Crookneck Squash
1 Zucchini
1 Leek OR 2 Green Onions OR 1 small Red Onion
1 small bulb Fresh Fennel or 2 ribs Tender Celery
10 Kalamata Olives (or any type)
2 cups Broccoli florets
4 to 6 Baby Artichokes
3 Ripe Tomatoes
1/4 cup Fresh Italian Parsley
1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
2 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
2 to 4 Tbsp Capers (Optional)
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan OR Crumbled Feta Cheese (Made without animal rennet)

Method:

Prepare the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a good pinch of salt and the pasta and bring back to a boil. Turn off heat and cover and let sit for about 10 minutes; test the tenderness of the pasta. If it is tender but firm, it is ready. Drain and add a fresh cup of water (to stop cooking) and drain well again. Pour a Tbsp of the olive oil and toss to coat.

Prepare the vegetables while pasta is cooking:

Cut off the roots and most of the green part of the leek. Cut in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly checking between layers to remove all sand and grit. Drain and dry. Slice thinly crosswise into semicircles. Peel and quarter the onion if using; slice thinly. If using green onions, remove root ends and any damaged green leaves; slice thinly both the white and as much of the green as possible.

Wash and dry all the vegetables.

Slice off the stem and blossom ends of the zucchini and yellow squash; cut in quarters lengthwise and then crosswise diagonally at 1/2" intervals.

Remove most of the outer leaves from the baby artichokes until the inner creamy yellow leaves remain. Cut off about 1/3 rd of the leaf-tip and trim the stems. Keep dropping prepared artichokes into lemon water to prevent browning. Cut them into halves or quarters as desired and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes or until tender by stir frying, boiling, or steaming. Let cool.

Separate the broccoli into small bite-sized florets. Cook the broccoli in a very small amount of water or steam in the microwave just until they turn bright green; let cool.

Cut the bell peppers into half, remove the stem, membranes, and the seeds; chop into small bite sized cubes.

Remove and discard stalks and root end from fennel and cut bulb in half or quarters; slice thinly. If using celery, slice thinly including the leaves.

Cut the tomatoes into small bite-sized pieces.

Strip leaves from parsley stalks and chop coarsely. Strip the basil leaves from the stems and tear coarsely.

Remove and discard the pits from the olives and cut them into quarters lengthwise.

Peel and finely chop the garlic.

Place garlic and salt in a large bowl and mash a little with the back of a spoon. Add the rest of the olive oil and mix well. Mix in all the vegetables, pasta, cheese, herbs, capers and the freshly ground black pepper.

Let sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to mingle and meld. Stir well and serve at room temperature with more freshly ground pepper if desired.

Note: Capers are pickled green buds that look a little like green peppercorns. They are available in any market in small jars.

2 comments:

Mama P said...

This seems too easy for you. Just to be cheeky, I WILL try this recipe. This week. If I don't, you can poison my second born. That's how confident I am in it.

Geetha said...

Hi Mama P: I think you will like the pasta salad. Just use a couple of your favorite veggies; you don't have to use them all. You can use a jar of artichoke hearts instead of the fresh ones. Better yet may be you can ask the little ones to choose what they like to put in it; may be some peas perhaps :)? Couldn't resist that one!