Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer pasta salad

There are many variations on the theme of a refreshing, summer pasta salad. It usually has lots of tender-crisp seasonal vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers and zucchini. And it has some kind of pasta -- usually penne or rotini. It may have some kind of protein, such as chicken, to make it heartier. And it has a dressing, which could be creamy, mustardy, or just a vinaigrette.

I remember the year that Nelson Mandela was released and embarked on a world tour. I was living with my college friends, Betsy and Karen. We decided to go to the Boston Common on that summer July day in order to cheer our hero. We packed food to take with us, including Betsy's future mother-in-law's pasta salad. Mrs. Boatwright's was vegetarian and featured green beans and a mustard-based dressing. It was tangy!

That recipe stayed with me and I have experimented over the years with variations on her salad and have developed one that I have come to like. It's reliable, easy and adaptable.

This salad makes enough for about 4 people.


Pasta Salad
3 cups roasted or poached chicken, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 large red pepper, seeded and sliced
4 cups of broccoli crowns, cut into piece
10 mushrooms, sliced
two large carrots, chopped
8-10 grape tomatoes, quartered
4 cups of penne, cooked and drained
3/4 cups Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated

juice of 2 1/2 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp Italian seasoning

The first step is to put the vegetables into a skillet with a little water on the bottom.


Cover and cook over medium flame until vegetables become a little soft. Drain and put in a large bowl.

Chop the chicken.

Add the tomatoes, chicken, pasta and cheese to the vegetables and mix gently.

Mixed together the olive oil and lemon juice.

Add the seasonings.

You may have to correct your seasonings.


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