Daily Archives: July 15, 2008

Pasta Salad with Pesto-Easy Dinner for a Summer Evening

It has been so hot this year – or may be I forget from one July to the next how bad it can get – that my usual enthusiasm/willingness to cook has deserted me more often these past few weeks than I can remember it happening before.

But the family has to be fed; so I decided one evening recently to combine everyone favorite ingredients – that’s cherry tomatoes for Noor and me, corn for Indira and Noor and Shri, pasta and pesto for everyone(most of all Indira) -plus some beans and grated carrots for the nutrition quotient, to make this pasta salad. Now that sure was a very quick and easy dinner ! Here’s what I did :

Pasta with Vegetables and Pesto

Pasta (any short shape) – 150 grams

Carrots – 3 medium sized

Frozen beans – 3/4 cup

Sweet Corn – a 125 gram tin

Cherry tomatoes – 150 – 200 grams

3 tablespoons of readymade pesto sauce

(look for brands that make the pesto with pine nuts, and not cashewnuts, which is the more commonly used ingredient in most commercially available pesto)

Snap the frozen beans in to 1 inch pieces and steam them till they are cooked.

(One way to do this is to place the steamer, with the beans in it,over the pan in which you will boil the pasta, so that both get done at the same time)

Boil 1-1.5 litres of water in a kettle, then transfer to a large pan. Add 1/2 tsp salt and a few drops of any cooking oil, and bring it to a boil again. Add the pasta and leave it to cook, stirring it occasionally.

In the meanwhile chop the cherry tomatoes in to halves and put these in a large salad bowl.

Add the corn to the tomatoes, after draining all the liquid in which it was packed.

Peel,wash, and grate the carrots in a food processor, then add these as well to the corn and the tomatoes.

Once the beans are steamed, leave them to cool for a bit, then mix with the other vegetables along with a sprinkling of salt and the pesto.

Once the pasta is cooked, allow it to cool for a few minutes (pasta that is too hot would make the tomatoes go a little soft) then toss it will the other ingredients in the bowl.

This salad works equally well with a different dressing. Combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1/2 a teaspoon of dried basil. Mix this dressing in to the vegetables instead of the pesto.

It is a good idea to make this salad at least an hour before you are ready to eat, since this allows the pasta to soak in all the flavors.

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Filed under Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Salads

Summer Special – Roasted Bell Peppers in Olive Oil

Now that summer is here, and those gorgeous orange and yellow bell peppers are available in abundance and at decent prices, I am enjoying one of my favorite summer dishes – roasted bell peppers soaked in olive oil.

Cooked like this, these peppers keep for up to two weeks in the fridge. And they are really versatile – they make a delicious and pretty addition to a summer picnic, or buffet; you can add them to a pasta salad; or use them inside some nice olive or walnut bread, or even just plain baguette, in combination with salad leaves for a really delicious, light sandwich.

They are wonderfully easy and quick to make, too.

Roasted Bell Peppers in Olive Oil

(there’ll be enough here to serve as a starter for 6-8 people)

3-4 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow)

6-8 tablespoons of olive oil

1 clove of garlic

Wash and dry the peppers, then cut each in to quarters lengthwise. Remove the core from each piece.

Pre-heat the oven, at 220°C, for 5 minutes. Line the baking tray of your oven with aluminum foil or cooking paper and place the quartered peppers on it with the skin side up. Roast the peppers for about 15-20 minutes, or till most of the skin of each piece blisters. In the meanwhile, grate the garlic in to the oil.

Let the pieces cool on the tray and then peel off the skin. Slice each quarter in to half lengthwise, place all the pieces in a wide plate, and pour the olive oil on them. Cover the plate with cling film, and leave the peppers in the fridge if you are not going to use them the same day.

If you are, then do finish preparing the dish at least a couple of hours before the meal, so that all the flavors get time to mingle.

You could skip adding the garlic to the olive oil, if you don’t like that flavor.

Enjoy, and thank the Italians for this simple but fabulous taste 🙂

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Filed under Picnic Food, Starters and Snacks, Versatile Accompaniments