Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pasta Niçoise

One of my favorite things about cooking at home is finding those dishes that are "keepers". These are the dishes that you know will become stand-bys in your quick cooking repertoire. The Prosecutor made this the other night and it is definitely a "keeper." This dish has most of the ingredients of the traditional salad that originated in the town of Nice in the south of France. The dish is tossed in a very simple lemon vinaigrette that is good on almost anything. This dish has very little prep work involved, unless opening a can is an arduous task.

Pasta Niçoise
Serves 6

1lb whole grain or whole wheat fuscilli pasta (I prefer Barilla Plus, the yellow box)
1lb small red potatoes
12oz fresh green beans (If you can find haricot vert, even better)
1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 14.5oz can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 cans of olive oil packed tuna (This is the star of the dish. Look in the imported Italian goods aisle of your mega mart. I like Cento or Genova.)
12oz jar of kalamata olives drained and cut in half
3c fresh spinach chopped

1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box, drain, and place back in the pot that you cooked it in.

2. While the pasta is cooking, place potatoes into a microwave proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for approximately 8-12 minutes or until fork tender. (Do not over cook the potatoes) When potatoes are fork tender, cut in half. Be careful! These little boogers are very hot when they get nuked.

3. Place beans in a microwave proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Nuke for 1 1/2 minutes. It's better if they are a little undercooked than over cooked.

4. Mix everything together in the pot that you cooked the pasta in and toss with the lemon vinaigrette (recipe is below).

Lemon Vinaigrette
The juice and zest of one lemon. (buy a microplane, they are cheap and great multi-taskers)
1/2c good olive oil
2T Champagne vinegar
2t apriva (Splenda is the brand name. Add more if you like it a little sweeter.)
1/2t salt
1/4t pepper

1. Whisk lemon juice, zest and vinegar together in a small bowl.

2. Slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

If you want to jazz up the vinaigrette or use it as a marinade for beef or chicken, add 1T of your favorite fresh herb or store bought pesto. I love fresh thyme!

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