Friday, September 08, 2006

The Pasta Salad Recipe

This is one of those meals (or sides) that followed the familiar household libretto, “‘what’s for dinner?’ ‘I dunno’ ‘what do we have in the fridge?’ ‘I’ll see what I can throw together.’” An oldie, and as in most cases of des-, er, inspiration (at least in my kitchen), a goodie.


Pasta • I prefer farfalle – the bowties – or orzo – looks like rice -- for this recipe
Olive oil • the more virgin the better
Fresh Garlic, minced
Pine nuts (pignoles)
Feta, crumbled
Tomatoes • I prefer grape tomatoes, halved, but have been using these lovely sweet golden cherry ones I get from a farmer here. Luscious. And as ever, never refrigerate your tomatoes, folks; turns ‘em into styrofoam.
Fresh Basil • Fresh is a must here: dried won’t do.
Black pepper

I know, you’re looking at this list and thinking, how is this pasta salad any different from the cold lunch special at my local B or C-list restaurant? It’s all in the technique, friends. And in the amounts. You’ll note I didn’t specify any here – it’s all by taste and feel, what gets your groove on. It’s the way I cook.

Which is why I don’t go for pastry cheffing, which requires the kind of mathematical precision that had me wrecking my grade-point average in sophomore chemistry (really, what’s so wrong about an unbalanced equation?). Indeed it’s why I’m not keen on growing roses either (of the few perennials here at our new home, there are a couple of rose bushes), which are similarly persnickety. Big concepts that allow for lots of creativity in the details, that’s me.

Ok, let’s get to it.

As you heat your water for the pasta (say, a box of farfalle or a bag of orzo), pour olive oil into a large sauté pan (say, a quarter-inch). Brown your minced garlic and pignoles together (to taste) in the olive oil while you cook the pasta. Meanwhile, crumble the feta in a large mixing bowl.

Drain the pasta and dump the pasta on to the crumbled feta. Then pour the olive oil/garlic/pignoles onto the pasta. Mix while hot: the pasta will absorb much of the nutty flavor from the hot oil mixture and cheese.

Now, you can add the other ingredients now and serve the meal hot (which I have, often with a protein source on top). For the cold salad, cool the pasta mixture enough to put in the fridge overnight (to give the pasta more time to absorb the flavor). Then, right before serving, take the mix out, add the tomatoes, the fresh basil (ribboned), and the cracked black pepper (no need for salt, there’s plenty in the feta), and mix. Again, everything is all to taste and sight (it’s very pretty), but you should know I don’t hold back on anything here. If the pasta seems dry, add more olive oil to juice it up – but not vinegar! (Vinegar detracts from all the other lovely fresh flavors). Serve and enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. Perhaps next you can share the one for your homemade pumpkin pie enjoyed by a number of DC squirrels in the fall of '87. By the way happy belated birthday; I'm right there with you in a few days.

Euonymous said...

Mike (sept 13?)

Funny, I was JUST TELLING SOMEONE about that (when the squirrels ate my beautiful pie, homemade from scratch from real pumpkins).

Haven't tried it since, but just got these luminous -- just beautiful -- white pumpkins that my farmer friend Rhonda tells me make great pie. . .