Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

GOOD COOKING

Eat Your Pasta While It's Cold

August 24, 1995|ABBY MANDEL

Cold pasta salads are light and quick to cook, perfect for summer meals. And contrary to what pasta purists claim, the pasta doesn't have to be a last-minute production; it can be cooked ahead, rinsed, tossed in a small amount of oil and chilled until serving time.

This means the kitchen stays cool at mealtime. But more than that, chilled pasta does not diminish the flavors of other ingredients in a salad the way freshly cooked hot pasta does. On the contrary, pasta salads made with chilled pasta seem to improve in flavor even when held overnight.

The salads that follow require no cooking, other than of the pasta itself. They are made with readily available ingredients --vegetables, fresh herbs, cooked shrimp, seasonings and vinegars.

Unfortunately, the food processor does not dice tomatoes, but this job can be quickly done with a sharp knife on a board. To juice and seed a tomato, cut it crosswise like a grapefruit, hold each half over the sink, lightly press the sides and give a hefty shake to release the juice and seeds. Use your finger to remove resistant seeds.

Note that these pasta salads have great flavor and consistency without much added oil, just the oil that's tossed in the cooked pasta to keep it separate during chilling. Canned vegetable broth loosens up the salads without any flavor loss; it's great for pasta salads that typically contain a high proportion of oil. The only exception is the dilled shrimp salad with farfalle, in which light mayonnaise is key in the mix.

Each of the salads can easily be doubled or tripled for large crowds, and they hold up well on buffet tables.

CHOPPED THAI SALAD WITH ORZO

This is a crunchy Thai-inspired mix that is both refreshing and sustaining. Serve it on watercress leaves accompanied by chilled melon and mango wedges. Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce is available in many large supermarkets and Asian grocery stores.

1/2 pound orzo, cooked according to package directions, rinsed under cold water, tossed with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, then chilled

1 cup chopped jicama

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup thin-sliced red cabbage

2/3 cup thin-sliced green onions

1/2 cup chopped lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts

1 1/2 tablespoons minced cilantro

1 1/4 teaspoons minced ginger root

2 teaspoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam or nam pla)

3 to 5 tablespoons vegetable broth

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 cups watercress leaves, washed, chilled

Put chilled orzo in large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, combine jicama, carrots, red cabbage, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, ginger, fish sauce, 3 tablespoons vegetable broth, rice vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. Mix well.

Add mixture to orzo. Toss until well mixed. Add remaining broth, as needed, so pasta has desired consistency (orzo should be separate, not sticking together, and there should be no excess liquid). Adjust seasoning.

Serve chilled, mounded on watercress leaves.

Makes 3 servings.

Each serving contains about:

387 calories; 1.107 mg sodium; 13 cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 58 grams carbohydrates; 16 grams protein; 0.9 grams fiber.

PENNE WITH TOMATOES, KALAMATA OLIVES, PARMESAN CHEESE AND FRESH BASIL

1/2 pound penne, cooked according to package directions, then rinsed under cold water, tossed with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, then chilled

2 ripe but firm large tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1/3-inch dice

10 Kalamata olives, pitted and diced

1/2 medium sweet onion, minced

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese

1/3 cup thin-sliced basil leaves

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups stemmed arugula leaves, washed, chilled

This is an ideal salad to server when tomatoes are sun-ripened and full-flavored. Serve it on arugula leaves along with cold roast chicken, chilled shrimp or a selection of thin-sliced Italian sausages.

Cook penne according to package directions. Rinse under cold water, toss with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil and chill.

Place chilled penne in large mixing bowl.

In separate bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, onion, cheese, basil, red wine and balsamic vinegars, 1/4 cup broth, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes. Mix well.

Add mixture to penne. Toss until well mixed. Add remaining broth until pasta has desired consistency (penne should be separate, not sticking together, but there should be no excess liquid). Adjust seasoning.

Serve chilled, mounded on arugula leaves.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

394 calories; 411 mg sodium; 126 mg cholesterol; 36 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.12 gram fiber.

DILLED SHRIMP WITH FARFALLE

This would make a great summer meal if accompanied by a chilled salad, say beet salad (use canned shredded beets, drained, tossed in fresh orange juice and a splash of balsamic vinegar) or thin-sliced cucumbers and radishes in vinaigrette.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|