Tags: Spinach

New Edition Pasta Salad

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.


…and one for good luck

I don’t think I ever saw my Grandmother use a measuring cup or spoon.  Sometimes I would catch her pour the olive oil into the cap before the pan only to drizzle a bit more “for good luck”.  Vincenza prepared food with all of her senses and so the need for a stack of stainless steel cups neatly tucked inside of one another was sort of unnecessary.  I am usally not so brave, though not exactly bound by that 1/4 cup of grated cheese either.

In this series I offer you two simply prepared, delicious recipes in one post.  One for the week and one for good luck.

Honey Glazed Carrots with Caraway Seed

serves 6–8 as a side dish

1 pound organic carrots
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup of water or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon caraway seed
chopped parsley, dill, mint or a combination to top (and make it look pretty)

Peel carrots and quarter lengthwise.  In a large cast iron or other heavy bottom skillet melt the butter and add the honey, stir to combine.  Add the carrots and water and simmer covered, stirring often for ten minutes, add the caraway seeds and continue to turn the carrots ensuring the glaze covers each one.  Cook for an additional ten minutes or until carrots are tender but still firm.  Find a pretty bowl, top with freshly chopped herbs and enjoy.

Sauteed Baby Spinach with Leeks and Pine Nuts

serves 4 as a side dish

4 pounds fresh organic baby spinach (this might seem like a lot but they cook down to almost nothing!)

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 sliced organic leek, white and light green only please

2/3 cup toasted pine nuts

In a large skillet melt the butter into the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook until softened but not browned (about five minutes).  Add the Spinach and cook until just wilted and tender.  Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with toasted pine nuts.