Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

The secret to this recipe is the pine nuts. When they are toasted they add a rich smokiness that's almost like bacon. To toast pine nuts, put them in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Toss them frequently so they don't burn. When they just start to brown, immediately take them off the heat because they will scorch quickly.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine or pressed through a garlic press
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 box rigatoni or penne regatta pasta
  • 1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (if packed in oil, rinse the oil off)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 cups chopped lettuce or baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Directions

Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. While the pasta cooks, combine oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt in a salad dressing shaker. Shake to combine and set aside.

Combine drained pasta, artichokes, tomatoes, basil, olives, and feta cheese in a large bowl.

Fill chilled salad bowls halfway with lettuce. Top with pasta mixture and dress with the dressing. Add pine nuts and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings

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