Whether on the beach or in the park, no picnic or barbeque menu would be complete without the ubiquitous pasta salad. Let us pause here for just a moment- I want you to close your eyes and envision the pasta salad. Overcooked elbow or shell shaped pasta, smothered in what is sure to become warm slippery mayo, studded with bits of bell pepper and onion that at one time may have been crisp but are now slightly softened by the heat of the sun. For decades this salad held a place and the end of the summer BBQ table, next to a pile of hot dogs and hamburgers, atop a red and white checkered table cloth, and for just as long we have all spooned servings of the dish onto a paper plate only to push it away from our seeded buns and eventually toss it in the garbage. The pasta salad, as just described in extreme detail above, has seen its end. If you need I will give you a moment to say your goodbyes….
I promise there will be no separation anxiety upon this introduction to a new, lighter, more flavorful edition as seen in the recipe below. I hope you enjoy.
New Edition Pasta Salad
1 pound farro
1 pound baby spinach
2 cans UN marinated artichoke hearts rinsed (you can also used frozen just make sure to properly thaw)
1 clove garlic
Juice and zest of two small lemons or 1 large lemon
8 fresh basil leaves
4 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated cheese (I used Locatelli, because I always use Locatelli)
1 tablespoon salt
7-10 turns of fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Rinse the farro in a colander with several washes of water. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a generous amount of sea salt. Add the farro to the boiling water and cook for aproximately 15 minutes or until tender, but still al dente.
In a food processor or blender add the artichoke hearts, basil, mint, walnuts, Locatelli, garlic clove, salt and pepper, lemon zest and juice. Slowly pour in the olive oil and pulse until all ingredients are pureed.
Gently tear the spinach leaves into a large salad bowl, add the cooked farro and stir lightly to wilt the leaves. Add the artichoke puree and combine well. Season with any additional salt and pepper at this time. Serve warm or at room temperature.