Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is it too early to think about Spring Picnics?

I certainly don't think it's too early to think about Spring, especially when it's only 18 degrees outside.
The thing I love the most about picnics are the many different "picnic salads" there are. I enjoy those more so than the main fare.

Today I felt like making one of my favorite picnic salads, which is a creamy pasta salad with tuna. Just love the combination of flavors as well as textures and since shell pasta is used, the best part is when you bite into a shell and it's filled with a pea and a bit of tuna. It's like a little tasty surprise!

1. Start out by cooking 1lb of small or medium shell pasta in 4 quarts of boiling water, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and drain again. Allow pasta to cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, 2 cups of frozen peas (thawed), a can of tuna that has been drained and flaked up (Canned, chunk chicken breast may be used in place of tuna), 4-6 ribs of finely sliced celery, a small yellow or red onion, finely diced and 1 cup of regular or light mayonnaise. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Cover and chill! This also makes a nice main course for lunch.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Arugula.

Here's another "Dinner 1-2-3" from the January/February, 2010 issue of Everyday Food Magazine.
Not only is this dish comforting on these cold winter nights, it's also delicious and healthy too! This dish takes about 30 minutes, from start to finish!

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place 2 pints of grape tomatoes, 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic, 3 shallots that have been cut into eighths. 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and season with coarse salt and pepper.
Roast until tomatoes burst, shallots are browned, and garlic is soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 lb of rigatoni until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

3. Peel roasted garlic and mash with the flat side of a chef's knife. Add to pasta pot, along with vegetables, 1/3 cup of pitted olives (such as Nicoise), coarsely chopped, and pasta water. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then toss with arugula.

To give this healthy recipe an extra boost of fiber, use whole-wheat pasta!