Mediterranean Pasta Salad

pasta salad  This was really yummy!  It has all those strong Mediterranean flavors – garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, etc.  Serve it barely warm or at room temperature.  If chilled, the flavors dull and the pasta gets gummy and sticky.

2 eggs

1/2 cup frozen green beans

8 oz penne pasta

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped parsley

4 tbs fresh lemon juice

2/3 c extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves minced

1 7-oz can good quality salmon

2 fresh roma tomatoes

1/2 cup drained pitted black olives (nicoise or klamata)

2 anchovies

1 tbsp capers

Freshly-ground pepper

Place eggs in cold water in a small pot, bring the water slowly to boil.  While the water is heating up, put the green beans in a steamer basket that fits over the egg pot.  Do not defrost beans.  Collect the remaining ingredients from your refrigerator and pantry.   When the egg water reaches a boil, turn off the heat, put the steamer basket over the egg pot and cover (this works better with an electric then gas stove.  If you have a gas stove, turn the heat down to its lowest setting).  Leave egg pot on the warm burner for 10 minutes (set a timer). 

While  the eggs are steeping and the green beans steaming, , bring a large quantity of lightly salted water with a few tsp oil to boil in a separate large pot for the pasta. Rather than impatiently watching the water heat up, tend to other business:  Save half of the nicest basil leaves and chop the rest along with the parsley.   Mash garlic with a pinch of salt (the abrasive quality of salt breaks down the garlic).  Squeeze lemon(s) to make lemon juice.  Whisk together chopped basil and parsley, dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, add generous amount of fresh ground pepper.    Set aside. 

By now, the eggs/green beans should be done.  (Cooking eggs this way avoids the ugly grey-green coating around the yolk).  Drain them.  Now drop them in a bowl of  ice water to cool them and set the green color (in the beans, not the eggs).  By now the pasta water should be at a rolling boil.  Add pasta and set timer for 9 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Open the can of salmon, drain it and mix 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette with the salmon in a bowl.  Don’t let the salmon break up too much.   Wash, then slice tomatoes.  Slice olives, cut anchovies in half in long slivers, and chop capers.  Layer tomatoes, whole basil leaves and green beans on salad plates and drizzle with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette.   Drain eggs and green beans.  Eggs will still be warm.  Tap eggshells against the wall of the bowl and peel them  Slice the centers of the eggs into coin-like slices.  Chop the egg ends, which should be mostly egg white with just a little bit of yolk. 

When pasta is done, drain it and run cold water over it.  Mix 2/3 cup vinaigrette with the warm pasta . Pile pasta on top of tomato/green bean/basil on each plate, then divide salmon on top.  Lay egg slices and anchovy strips on top of the salmon, sprinkle chopped eggs, olives and capers on top of entire salad.  Drizzle remaining salad dressing and serve.  Makes two very large salads or four medium salads.

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