Saturday, August 9, 2008

Who's Got Time?

The gods have smiled upon New York City this weekend. Sunny skies, warm temperatures, and - most importantly - low humidity. I can't cook under these conditions! But a guy's still gotta eat, right? Here's a great, easy recipe for that Central Park picnic or a quick lunch after hitting the links. I can't remember how I came up with this one, but it's been an old stand-by for years, people love it, and it can be dressed up or down as decorum demands.
 
Pasta Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes
1lb Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
¼ cup pignoli (pine nuts)
4oz sun-dried tomatoes
6 cloves fresh garlic
4oz sliced black olives
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
 
Toast the pignoliStart by setting well-salted water to boil in a large, covered pot. While waiting for the water to boil, toast pine nuts in a dry pan over low heat. Toss frequently, and don't wander off too far until the pignoli are off the heat. When the nuts are a light golden color, remove from heat and set aside.
 
Meanwhile, slice sun-dried tomatoes about ⅛" thick, toss with crushed garlic and olive oil in a small bowl and let stand. If you buy very dry tomatoes, reconstitute them for 15' in a bowl of very hot water then drain before slicing. Moister tomatoes should not need to be reconstituted, but you're looking for something pliable. Never, ever buy sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil. Marinate your own instead.
 
Once the water has come to a boil, pour in the bow-tie pasta and stir immediately. I like my pasta with a nice al dente bite, and usually start testing the Farfalle after about 8 minutes. If you've cooked your pasta for longer than twelve minutes, throw the whole thing out and head to the Olive Garden instead.
 
Thoroughly rinse the pasta Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain in a colander and - in a controversial move - run under cold water. Italian cooks will insist that I am insane, but I find that unless I rinse the excess starch from the pasta, I get a lumpy salad with noodles sticking together. Since there is no sauce to lubricate the Farfalle, I hope I'm forgiven for resorting to a little H2O.
 
The finished product Drain your pasta very well and then toss with the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil mixture. Add the cheese, black olives, chopped basil and pignoli and toss once again. Before seasoning, taste the salad. The saltiness of the cheese and the salted water should be adequate. For a little kick, add a couple of pinches of red pepper flake. With your first bite you'll pick up the intense richness of the sun-dried tomatoes, the sweet nuttiness of the pignoli and that sharp, almost minty kick of the basil. If you can manage to let this salad stand covered in the refrigerator overnight, well it will only get better!
 
I hinted earlier that this recipe can be dressed up. Try adding chopped red onion, capers and crushed anchovy for a more complex flavor. Add thick slices of grilled sweet Italian sausage for those meat-lovers among you. Pair with an Italian Barolo or Chilean Tempranillo, and you can't go too far wrong.
 
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food
 

1 comment:

Muffie Vernon said...

I love the blog.....put a timer on the pine nuts.....I pulled a "mike" and burnt the pine nuts to a crisp recently!