Friday, 16 August 2013

The Red, the White and the Green

Insalata di Pasta con Erbe Miste, Pomodoro & Pistacchio
Pasta Salad with Mixed Herbs, Tomato & Pistachio

What can be more Italian than a meal that has the same colors as the nations flag?Especially when the ingredients are tomatoes, pasta, herbs and pistachios? This was yet another pasta dish that had so many of my favorite flavors and memories from "the old country" that I just had to serve it up in my favorite little Sicilian dish to do it justice- and the result was a bowl full of Sicilian Summer sunshine. You will love this so much you will never make one of those mayonnaise-slathered, awful, heavy and unimaginative pasta salads again!

Keeping food light is a smart thing to do at all times- but especially so in the Summer months, when it is so hot and the temperatures already slow you down... the last thing you need is fatty food. This dish has lots of great, fresh ingredients to treat your taste-buds... juicy tomato, crunchy celery and vibrant and delicious herbs- combined with a little garlic, some good olive oil and a generous sprinkle of ground pistachio... let me just say this was probably the best pasta salad I have ever eaten! Word!

Of course, this was very simple to make and all of the fresh ingredients could easily be prepared in the 7-8 minutes it too for the pasta to boil. So... on went the saucepan, in went the pasta and out came my chopping board!

So, to make 2 portions of pasta, the first thing that went into this dish to make it so delicious, were a couple of the most tender, inner stalks from the celery- these and a little handful of the leaves, finely chopped, went into a bowl. Next came a half clove of garlic, which I crushed with a pinch of sea salt on top of my board and then chopped and squashed-down into a fine paste. Then came a good pinch of each of the herbs- I used 4-5 good sized leaves of mint and basil and 4-5 sprigs of fresh oregano and thyme. Next came 4-5 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters and 1 small shallot chopped into a very fine dice. These all came into the same bowl, along with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. And all that needed to happen now was for the pasta to boil!

As soon as the pasta was ready, I drained it off and transferred it, steaming hot, to the bowl with all of the other ingredients. I tossed it through well, making sure to get everything nicely distributed and all of the flavors infusing into the pasta whilst  it was still hot. I grated it with a little nutmeg and seasoned it sparingly with salt (as some had already been in the ground garlic as well as the cooking water) and rather generously with pepper. Once it had been tossed, the tomatoes of course gave off some of their juices which combined with the olive oil and the essential oils in the herbs... and oh yes- it did become lovely and aromatic!

I added a couple of tablespoons of ground pistachio and a squeeze of lemon juice, a last trickle of olive oil and a quick toss in the air for good luck- and there it was! A beautiful, colorful, simple and healthy pasta dish to enjoy either lukewarm or stone cold! I guess that depends on how hungry you are and how hot the weather is- hahah! I just hope you enjoy and hope you have fun with it! I know that I did both!

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