Daughter and I are going on a hike tomorrow and bringing along a lunch. I’ll leave it in a cooler at the bottom of the mountain, but what can I bring that will satisfy my hunger, taste great and not taste boring? I had an “aha” moment in Trader Joe’s when I saw the pignolis (pine nuts). Why not make a pasta salad with toasted pine nuts? Yum. There’s no mayo, so letting it sit in the cooler for a few hours works fine. With lots of fresh, crunchy veggies, it’s sure to satisfy after a long hike in the desert. Of course, Daughter and I had to eat it for dinner too, just to make sure it was good. The pine nuts give it a wonderfully nutty flavor, and the veggies give it a crisp and light taste. I love fresh herbs, so please use the fresh parsley. Dried parsley just wouldn’t give it the fresh, spring taste. But feel free to add any fresh veggies you want and substitute anything. I adore crispy, fresh baby vegetables, and with the farmers’ market overflowing with great veggies right now, you can’t go wrong. I found the fennel and tomatoes there last weekend. Can’t wait to go back and find out what else I can make next week.
As I write this, I realize that since I’m in Arizona I forget that the rest of the world isn’t having 80-degree weather with sunny skies and farmers markets on the weekends. I know so many of my friends are shoveling themselves out of snow and trying to find anything green outside. If that’s your situation, I wish you a nice, warm, cozy fire to sit by and a good movie to watch. And have some pasta salad while you’re at it.
Pignoli Pasta Salad
1 cup raw pine nuts
1 cup chopped baby zucchini (one small bag from TJ’s)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced fennel
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup diced tomatoes (I had these left from the farmers’ market trip)
3/4 cup shredded Romano cheese (leave out if you’re vegan or DF)
1 bag of Trader Joe’s brown rice fusilli pasta
Red wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped Basil (or dried)
1 Tbs grated romano cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
Ratio is 2/1 for oil and vinegar totaling about 1/4 cup. Then just add herbs and spices and taste. I don’t like my dressing with too much vinegar, but some people do. Just add a little more of each till you have it just right. Depending on what veggies you use, you may need a little more.
1. Start out by cooking the pasta as directed. When it’s done (al dente), drain and quickly rinse it in cold water to stop any further cooking. You don’t want mushy pasta salad.
2. In a frying pan without any oil, toast the nuts lightly over medium heat. Stir often and when they turn golden brown, remove from pan to prevent burning. I burned the first batch, so be careful, they go from brown to black quickly.
3. Once the pasta has cooled, add the veggies, cheese, nuts and dressing. Mix thoroughly. I saved a little of the dressing for tomorrow since it usually soaks everything up overnight.