Posts Tagged 'summer salad'

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

This is one of my favorite original recipes I’ve come up with.  It started as a need for a dish at a potluck or block party or something.  It was the dead of summer, and temperatures were in 110’s.  It was way too hot for anything with mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, or the like.  I didn’t want anything heavy, or too spicy either.  This was also when I was in a phase of trying to cook with 5 ingredients or less (salt and pepper not included).  I figured a pasta salad, with a bright citrus dressing could really be something.

So here it is:

Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

  • 1 Package Bowtie Pasta
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Bunch Basil
  • 1 Pint Grape Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil

Boil the pasta per the directions on the package.

Remove zest from both lemons.

I use a micro plane and I love it.  But you can also use those fancy zesters they sell.

Get all the zest from both lemons.  This is where all the flavor is.

Juice both lemons.  Make sure to strain out the seeds.

Slice your grape tomatoes in half.  If you decide to use cherry tomatoes cut them in quarters.  Rome Tomatoes, in 8th.  Vine tomatoes in 16th.  You get it.  Make em bite size.

Chiffonade your basil.  Chiffo-whatnow?  Chiffonade.  A technique in which herb are cut into long, thin strips.  STart by pinching the leaves from the stem.  Stack the leaves on top of each other, with the largest on the bottom, and the smallest on top.

Roll the stack of leaves up, like a tight cigar.

Then slice narrow strips across the cigar.  You’ll end up with little ribbons of basil as they uncurl.

Place the lemon juice in a mason jar.  Add olive oil to your liking.  I find that most dressing recipes call for more oil than vinegar.  I prefer mine the opposite way.  I usually do about 2 parts acid to 1 part oil.  That’s a good ratio for this recipe too.  You can even do 3 parts acid to 1 part oil here.  The idea is to have a bright, refreshing salad.  Not a thick, heavy, oil laden dish.  Add a liberal amount of Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Add your lemon zest.

Now, for my favorite life hack of 2010.  I don’t understand how this never occurred to me before.  Take your blender blade and base, and screw it on to the mason jar.  That’s right.  Blender bases were intentionally designed to fit regular mouth mason jars.  Mind boggling.

But your jar on your blender and blend into an emulsion.  If you don’t have a mason jar, or a blender (weirdo), then you could use an immersion blender, or a whisk if you’re super old school.  If that’s the case, start with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Drizzle the oil slowly as you whisk.  You want the dressing to emulsify.

Drain the pasta, and rinse in cold water.

Toss the pasta in cold water to properly cool it.

Toss the pasta, tomato, basil, and dressing together.  Enjoy.


Spicy Cabbage and Jicama Slaw w/ Preserved Lemons

So we got a Jicama in our last order from Bountiful Baskets.  Not something I would usually buy, but something I am familiar with.  I wasn’t in the mood to research a recipe, so I started raiding my fridge, and sharpening knives.  This recipe is 100% original.

Spicy Cabbage and Jicama Slaw w/ Preserved Lemons.

  • 1/2 Green Cabbage
  • 1/2 Red Cabbage
  • 1 Jicama
  • 3 Large Carrots
  • 2 Green Onions
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 2 Quarters Preserved Lemons
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Apple Cider, Rice Wine, Red Wine Vinegar (any combination, I did equal parts
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper (is it really necessary to list this?)

Slice both cabbages thinly.  Peel the jicama, and either cut into thin julienne or use a fine tooth blade on a mandolin slicer.  Do the same for the carrots.  Combine the cabbages, jicama, and carrots in a large bowl, and salt liberally.

Slice the green onions into thin rings.

Cut the jalapeño open, and remove seeds and veins.  If you’re brave, cut a thin slice to taste the jalapeño, to see just how hot it is.  Jalapenos are fickle, some are very hot, others are not.  The only way to know what you’re getting yourself in to, is to taste it.  If you’re not brave, have your wife taste it, like I did.  Dess will eat Pepperoncini out of the jar, and suicide wings by the dozen.  Our pepper was very hot.  I could by the way Dess’ face light up, and the curses she was throwing in my direction.  Based on my scientific method, I decided to use only 1/4 of the pepper.  You need to make your own decision. The pepper should add a burst of heat to the salad, not turn it in to salsa.

Cut the pepper into the thinnest strips you can muster.  Then cut those strips into tiny cubes.

Remove two 1/4’s of a preserved lemon from your jar (for directions on how to make preserved lemons, see my next entry).  Fillet off the flesh of the lemon.  Using a very sharp knife, slice off as much of the pith as possible.  Take the rind, and rinse it under cold water.  This little rind contains a massive amount of salt and lemon flavor.  Again, you want it to be a little burst of flavor, and not a citrus salt lick. Slice the rind into the thinnest strips you can muster.  Then cut those strips into tiny cubes.

Add about a teaspoon of Paprika, 1/2 t Cumin, ground pepper, the green onions, jalapeno and lemon rind to the cabbage mixture.  Add approximately 1/4 cup vinegar(s) and 2-3 tablespoons olive oil.  Toss to combine.  Adjust spices and vinegar to your taste.  I preferred more vinegar, heavier on the rice wine and cider side.

Let the salad marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
I found this to be a great summer salad.  The cabbage and jicama were crisp and refreshing.  The paprika, cumin, and jalapeño added the smallest amount of heat and Mexican flare.  And the preserved lemon gave it these little pockets of fresh and bright citrus notes.  This was a hit with the whole family, and will definitely be made again.

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