Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Pasta Salad

Wow. What a week and weekend. Noodle Nose 'graduated' from pre-school, I worked my tail off and I mean worked my tail straight up off all weekend. We unveiled the new menu, which I have been working on nearly nonstop the last couple weeks... Honestly, I don't think I'm fully recovered as of the current moment.

My house is not fully recovered, the laundry is definitely still in need of doing and my cooking? Or better put, the severe lack thereof... well, that's another story. I have been so distracted with menu design I haven't had time to do much else, and that means cooking, cleaning, blogging... you got it.

I did manage to find time to exercise though. Because a: I am an exercise hoe and b: whether I want to accept it or not, the Seattle half is right around the corner. Three. Choke. Weeks. Regardless of how I feel about my readiness, I'll be there and I'll be running. Running. The. Whole. Dang. Thing. Have you read my guest post over at Check it out. I kinda like it :)

So today (and the rest of the week) is dedicated to catching up with blog posts and attempting to come up with creative menu items that fit into my new 'diet' type thingy. I got called out this weekend... and so. I'm on a new plan. I hate to call anything a diet because that's just lame, but I am going to start counting those pesky little calories. Damn you calories. I only stay motivated because I know it will help with the half...

This pasta salad is a simple and refreshing addition to a summer bbq, picnic or luncheon. It does contain those dangerous and severely delicious carbohydrates, which this carb-addict is trying to stay away from, but overall the salad is light yet filling and truly delicious.

Make it for your 'ladies who lunch' or pack it up and take the fam on a picnic. Even if it's in your own backyard. Backyard picnics are the best.

1 1/4 cups ditalini, or other small pasta
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons spicy dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 shallot, finely diced
1/2 to 1 full container organic grape tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
About 2 fairly packed cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen lima beans, defrosted
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned
1/4 cup sesame seeds, plus more for garnish

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.

While your pasta is cooking, combine toasted sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, cumin, salt and pepper in a jar, seal and shake until essentially emulsified. Set aside.

Prepare shallot and tomato and combine in a large bowl. Add baby spinach and lima beans to your bowl then drizzle about half of your dressing. Gently mix to combine.

Once pasta is done, strain and add to the bowl. Gently toss to combine. At this point check your dressing ratio. Add about 1/2 of what is left in your dressing jar and toss to combine. If you like a lot of dressing, add the entire remaining amount.

At this point, taste the salad and add more salt and pepper if you so choose.

When your salad is sufficiently combined and the salt and pepper ratio is to your personal liking, add the basil and sesame seeds and toss lightly to combine.

If you are not going to eat it right away, cover and refrigerate. It will be good for a couple days in the fridge. That's why it's a great 'make ahead' salad.

If you are going to serve right away, transfer to a lovely serving bowl or plate individually. Sprinkle extra sesame seeds on top, for garnish and you're ready to go.

Light, filling, flavorful and fun to eat for adults and kids. This healthy pasta salad will be a big hit without hitting you in the waistline... ha!


Lima Bean

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