Whew. We are finally done with the snow and the crazy cooking of the past few weeks has slowed down. I am not cooking for my clients this week and so some of the pressure has lessened. I feel I can cook what I want, what sounds good to me, without worrying about the wow factor.
I made this pasta salad last night for our dear friends Anna and Debbie who just welcomed twins into their lives. I know that when I had both my boys, anyone who brought us food was a total hero. Not having to worry about a trip to the grocery store, let alone cooking, and still being nourished was one of the best gifts someone with a newborn can receive. We decided to eat with Anna and Debbie but I made sure to make enough so that they would have some leftovers. I also brought along a roasted tomato soup, incredible (and incredibly easy) olive bread, and these brownies. I’m telling you, brownies are a must for a nursing mother.
So, this pasta salad. It is one I have made again and again and never tire of. You allow some raw zucchini, tomato, olives, garlic, feta cheese, olive oil, and dill to marinate together in a nice big bowl. This allows the zucchini to “cook” a bit so it has a nice texture and flavor, but without that chalky rawness or that overcooked slimy-ness. You can just let this bowl sit while you bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta. I just scoop the pasta out and directly into the bowl where the veggies are marinating so I don’t have to wash a colander. Plus a little starchy water from the pasta eliminates the need for too much olive oil.
I once read somewhere that pasta salads are best served room temperature. I couldn’t agree more. If they are too cold, the pasta seems to get extra starchy and that is all you taste. There is a lot of wonderful savory flavor here so please don’t kill it in the fridge! It can be made a day in advance, refrigerated, then brought to room temperature for an hour or so.
Penne with Greek-Style Vegetable Marinade
Adapted from Main Course Vegetarian Pleasures
1/3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
6 scallions, very thinly sliced
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1 cup finely diced feta cheese
Salt and pepper
1 lb. penne or rotini
1. Combine all the ingredients except the pasta and the salt in a large bowl. Toss and let sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Carefully scoop the pasta out and add to the bowl with the veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.