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.

  • 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

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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