Summer TV schedules are pretty sucky - when you're reduced to watching random sections of Godfather I, II, and III over and over on 2.2 because nothing else is on, it tends to creep into your psyche. So while wandering through the littered hallways of my mind trying to think of a title, the fact that this recipe contains pasta AND olive oil made a Don Corleone quote a given - right, ya babbo?
So I made a pasta salad the other night totally on the fly - I love a good pasta salad but this wasn't it. I under dressed it, and didn't have pine nuts...it just isn't the same without them, but the pine nut farmers apparently think we are made of money so I don't have them on hand anymore. What does a pinenut come from anyway? A really big pinecone? I wonder if there are fir nuts...I would have a never-ending supply. Oops, train of thought took a detour...
So the salad was a bit bland, and became more so the next day after the pasta absorbed the little dressing I used, and son #2 told me that his brother said it was terrible. So when I pulled it out of the fridge today to eat the rest for lunch (waste not, gain another chin), I noticed Son #1 had made his White Balsamic Viniagrette and had left it unguarded in the fridge (without a lid, and in the container that comes with the hand blender...how the male species finds nothing wrong with this is beyond my comprehension) . Giving it a quick stir and taste to make sure it wasn't someone's facial peel, I decided to moisten up my pasta salad with it and drizzled some over it. I took a bite, and tiny pinpoints of light appeared before my eyes, like fireflies dancing around my head, and a chorus of angels broke into song....then I coughed and the bowtie cutting off my oxygen dislodged itself and I thought "Wow, this is really good!" So here you go...another "sort of" recipe that you can play with all you like - just chew better than I did ya goombah.
1 lb. pasta - radiatore (like tiny brains) or a twisty one the cheese gets stuck in
1 big head broccoli, cut into smallish florets
2 or 3 carrots, peeled and cut in 2" long matchsticks (or use baby carrots)
1 can black olives, sliced in circles, or buy them sliced if you're not cheap
1 cup (at least) of grated pizza cheese (don't bother w/o cheese, it's heinous)
Pine nuts - as many as you can afford to put in
Eric's White Balsamic Viniagrette (make this first)
2 T. honey dijon mustard (you could use dijon and just a little extra honey)
2 T. honey
2 T. white balsamic - Trader Joes, cheap. Eric says white wine vinegar is OK..
2 T. white wine - if you don't have any, Eric said GO BUY SOME!
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh thyme)
2 T. olive oil
2 T. vegetable oil
Onion salt & pepper to taste
Whisk or process with hand blender until emulsified, adjust to your personal taste.
Cook pasta until DONE...be careful about that "al dente" crap, if you do that for pasta salad it will seem like you're eating rubber tubing. I go by the directions, it's usually pretty close. So if it calls for 7 minutes, set the timer for 5, and dump the broccoli and carrots in when it goes off, then set for another 2 - that is just enough to cook the veggies without them turning into mush. When the timer goes off again, check pasta for doneness (if it isn't, go another minute and try again...veggies should still be OK). When done, IMMEDIATELY dump in colander and run under cold water until completely cold, shake colander a couple times and dump into large bowl A little water is fine...it helps to keep the pasta from sucking ALL the dressing into it.
Add olives, cheese and pine nuts, then drizzle half of the viniagrette over it and toss until well coated. Add more as needed, and if you don't eat it right away, add more to it before serving if needed. If you used it all up, you can add some olive oil and/or a little warm water to refresh it - you never know with pasta how much it will take in. And maybe you will have learned a lesson and next time you'll make a double or quadruple batch so you can use it on green salad too...stranger things have happened. It's really good on mixed greens with dried cranberries, glazed or sugared walnuts or pecans, and fresh ripe pear slices too...grilled chicken just makes it ridiculously delicious!
And to "...make you an offer you won't refuse", I have also used half pasta and half small cheese raviolis (get them in the freezer case), and included things like marinated artichoke hearts and sun dried tomato slivers - anyone who snags this lunch out of the work fridge will surely meet the same fate as poor Luca....