Posted in Cooking, corn free, gluten free, nut free

Colombia Restaurant 1905-inspired Summer Pasta Salad

I’ve eaten at the Colombia Restaurant just once and was most impressed by the simplicity and the goodness of their signature salad with their 1905 salad dressing. But I can’t eat lettuce, so I looked for a way to make this a robust salad without it. Enter pasta…or quinoa or even rice for a Northern Italian-style dish.

Here’s what I used for the “salad”:

  • 1 box of orzo pasta, prepared according to package instructions (GF: use any small piece gluten free pasta; GF & CF: use quinoa)
  • 3 standard cucumbers, seeds removed, quartered lengthwise, chopped
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced in rings
  • 1 cup green Spanish olives stuffed with pimentos, whole or sliced (I like whole)
  • 8 slices of swiss cheese, cut into 1/2-inch squares (or julienned if that’s easier)
  • 1 package of diced prociutto (4 oz)
  • 1 package of julienned Citterio ham (4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup pepperoncini rings (optional)

For the dressing, which is based on the Colombia Restaurant 1905 dressing:

  • 1 cup good oil (EVOO)
  • 1 cup ACV
  • 1/4 Worcestershire sauce
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1t dried oregano
  • 1t black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt

Whisk up the dressing and let it sit out on the counter to marinate for several hours before you dress the pasta salad.

Dress and serve at is or over a pile of lettuce to make it more “salad-y.”

Posted in Being Healthy, Cooking

My Favorite Summer Pasta Salad

It’s summer, which for many means that all the best produce is in season, fresh, and readily available. Definitely true for all of the ingredients of my favorite summer salad.

It couldn’t be any simpler or take any less time or effort…and you’ll find it very versatile:

  • 1 package of your favorite shaped pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled (try an all-rice pasta for gluten free and corn free needs)
  • Equal volume of your favorite medley of fresh veggies (equal volume to the cooked pasta)
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, thyme
  • Olive oil, about 1/4 cup for the whole salad
  • Lemon juice, or other acid like apple cider vinegar (to keep some of the veggies from turning brown)

Me…this week I’ve paired rotelle (spiral) pasta with what I think of as my classic medley: 1 pint of grape tomatoes, 1 large hothouse cucumber (seeded), 1 orange bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, and 2 small Hass avocados. I love how the avocados, regardless of how firm they are when you cut them, start to “melt” and become part of the dressing, keeping everything nice and lubricated without extra oil in the dressing! And I went with 2 T of herbs de provence to season everything nice and brightly…it’s the lavender flowers that I love best in the American version from Whole Foods.

Some alternative combos:

  • artichoke, orange, red onion with red wine vinegar
  • broccoli, cauliflower, shelled sugar snap peas with grapeseed oil

Sometimes I add a small bag of edamame, organic and non-GMO, if I don’t have any regular protein to go with it (either freshly made or leftover). But this week, I’ve cooked up several chicken breasts with herbs de provence.

The chicken, salad, and a banana will comprise my lunch for the week…all made in about 30 minutes.

But this salad is fantastic to make up on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and just have in the fridge as a quick side or even late-night snack. With the sweet and crunchy veggies, it’s often an acceptable alternative to your palate’s oreo craving at 10:30 pm.

Finally, this is my regular go-to contribution to any summery potluck, especially if I know any vegetarians will be attending; I make a special point to let them know I will be bringing the salad and how I prepare it so they can be comfortable eating it. I’ve had several vegetarian friends attend a potluck for the first time because they knew there’d be something for them other than just what they brought. (In the winter, I do a mushroom risotto for my vegetarian friends.)