Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera with garlic pasta.

Pasta Primavera with garlic pasta.

This is a fast, easy, cold summer pasta salad. You can use any kind of pasta — and I know some people prefer to use all kinds of small shaped pasta for cold pasta salads — but for some reason I’ve always used fettuccine, perhaps because it’s most likely to come in assorted flavors and colors. I used to make this all the time many years ago, and I’m not sure why I stopped since it’s not like summers are any cooler. ūüėČ But it’s been so many years since I made it that when I was making up the grocery list, I had to stop and think hard about what vegetables I used to use. Honestly, all I can remember are tomatoes and peas, but I’m fairly sure it had squash of some sort as well. The original recipe probably had seasonings added, but I used Boyajian basil-flavored olive oil instead.

A language note: “primavera” means spring and often refers to sauteed spring vegetables. The only spring vegetable in it, however, are peas. If you want this to be a spring dish, you could substitute steamed or sauteed broccoli for the zucchini, but really I don’t know what spring vegetable would be a likely substitute for fresh tomatoes. They brighten the dish both in color and also flavor! When you start swapping out ingredients in dishes you’re going to change the character of the dish. Feel free to experiment with cool season veggies, but despite the name (which I got from the original half-remembered recipe), this is cold summer pasta dish.

1 pkg pasta of your choice (preferably flavored)
Cherry or grape tomatoes
1 12oz pkg frozen peas
4 zucchini or yellow squash
Olive oil, or flavored olive oil (such as Boyajian)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. While you’re waiting for the water to boil and cooking the pasta, slice and saute the squash in olive oil in a large skillet until just tender, but not falling apart. Zap peas in the microwave according to package instructions. (I use peas that are microwaved in the bag.)

Drain the pasta. Do not rinse! Cool in colander a little while.¬† Drizzle with olive oil. I prefer flavored oils with an olive oil base for this. Toss with squash, peas and tomatoes when it’s cooled enough not to partially cook them. I use a pair of tongs for this.

Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cool, 3-4 hours. (You can wait and top with the tomatoes at serving, but I prefer to toss them in earlier so they can pick up the flavored oil more.) If you’re going with Mediterranean flavors, as I prefer, and have some fresh basil on hand, you can toss some ripped up fresh basil leaves into the mix as well. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving, if you wish. By the way…the peas do tend to sink a bit, so dig deep when tossing before serving, scooping down to the bottom of the bowl.

As a main dish, this would probably serve at least 5 people, as a side dish I can’t even guess…something just short of infinite. ūüėČ

Black Rice Salad

black rice saladAn older neighbourhood here has a lovely tradition of holding a community barbeque every summer.  Seeing as Boyfriend lives in that neighbourhood, I have attended for the last few years.  It is one of the older neighbourhoods in the city with crazy winding, one-way streets populated by older row houses and some stand-alone Victorian beauties.  One section of the neighbourhood has a field hidden behind the houses of four separate streets Рthe perfect spot to hold a barbeque.

Barbeques are provided (one for vegan food only), so participants need only bring food to cook and one dish for the community to share.¬† Local entertainment is provided throughout the barbeque, giving residents a chance to show off their particular abilities.¬† In a world of subdivisions and people generally not getting to know their neighbours any more, it’s a wonderful spot to sit and talk and take in the friendly atmosphere.

I waited a bit late in the day to make my side dish, so I was stuck with whatever was in the pantry.¬† My first thought was to make a pasta salad.¬† Alas, no pasta.¬† Then I thought I would make the quinoa and lentil salad¬†I made last year.¬† Alas, no quinoa.¬† What I did have was a bag of black rice, something I had never cooked before.¬† I didn’t know how it tasted or what would taste good with it.¬† Running out of time, I had to make a decision.¬† So, I decided I couldn’t go wrong with cold rice, some oils, and some seasoning.¬† And it worked!

I boiled two cups of water and added one cup of black rice.  Be sure to rinse the rice well before you cook it (and be prepared for the water to become a dark purple).  The rice will take about 35 minutes to cook.  Ideally, it would have been better to have had the time to let the rice cool for a few hours, or even overnight, before I added the seasoning but, like I said, I was running short on time.  After 30 minutes of cooling time, I added a shallot, a generous amount of Herbamare, a dash of hemp oil, a dash of flax oil, and several splashes of Tamari.  I mixed it together and left it in the fridge for an hour.

This salad went down a treat.¬† I know I’ve hit on something good when children will eat it and ask for more.¬† I can see this being a go-to dish down the road – something to make when the pantry is bare.¬† Easy to make, tasty to eat, and can be either lunch or a side-dish or a contribution to your own neighbourhood barbeque.

Quinoa and Lentil Salad

quinoa lentil pilaf

Fresh and tangy, this¬†salad hits the spot when looking for a light-tasting lunch.¬† I have made this recipe quite a bit and it’s been a hit with everyone who has tasted it.¬† You can make it as a side dish, eat it for lunch, or bring it to¬†a neighbourhood barbeque (like I’ve done).¬† Make sure you rinse the quinoa and lentils before cooking.

You will need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1-2 red peppers, diced
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) tamari
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion flakes
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup unsalted cashews

Cook quinoa and lentils together for 10 minutes.  You can put them in the cold water, wait to boil, and then keep on medium high.  Drain the quinoa and lentils and let cool.  Typically, I put them in the fridge until they get really cold.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  The salad is ready to eat; however, you may want to let it sit a while to let the ingredients get to know each other.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes.