Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pasta Salad Nicoise

It's always during those few days leading up to doing some major food shopping when your true culinary mettle is tested. There's nothing fresh...just a few limp leaves of lettuce and a wrinkly apple staring out of the crisper drawer. Your pantry is a hodgepodge of random ingredients (pasta shaped like Christmas stockings? Where did that come from?) I love those days. Some of my best recipes have come to me during those times (like this one). But, you know, I also like to watch Chopped and mentally play along (what would I make out of calamari, prickly pear, chocolate syrup and Wasa toasts?). I'm crazy like that.

During such a time this Pasta Salad Nicoise was born. It was a particularly dry spell for our kitchen because I was in the middle of giving myself about 20 shots of fertility drugs each day, which meant grocery shopping was a super low priority. That said, I was also preparing my body for the embryos that would be transferred in a few weeks and eating lots of protein, lots of Omegas, lots of greens, blah, blah blah...but let's be honest, the hormones were making me crave lots of CARBS. This salad fit the bill on many levels, so we ate it frequently over those few weeks (while watching copious hours of Golden Girls to distract ourselves!). And hey--two out of our three transferred embryos took, so who's to say there isn't some secret fertility juju in it...eat it at your own risk!

Pasta Salad Nicoise, serves 4
1/2 lb pasta (I think Barilla gemelli or mezze penne work best for this, but you use the shape you like best)
1 can tuna in water, drained
2 hard boiled eggs
1/3 bag (about 1 cup) frozen, shelled edamame (I know haricot vert are traditional for this salad, but I think the size and firmness of the edamame holds up much better next to the pasta while keeping a similar flavor profile--and majorly upping the protein)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 dozen kalamata olives
s&p to taste
baby spinach

1. Put eggs on to boil, starting them in cool water. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then remove the eggs from heat and let them sit for another 5 minutes. Pour off hot water and recover the eggs with cold water, letting them sit until you are ready to mix them into the salad.
2. Cook pasta to specifications on the box, adding edamame to the cooking pasta for the last 3 minutes.
3. Drain pasta and edamame, then pour into a large bowl. While the pasta is still warm, add the tuna, mayo, dijon, celery seed, and salt and pepper. Mix and adjust ingredients as needed or to your taste (I have a dijon problem, so I actually add more like 2 teaspoons instead of the 1 stated above).
4. Peel and roughly chop eggs. Mix them into the pasta.
5. To serve, place pasta salad on a bed of baby spinach and top with 1/2 dozen kalamata olives. A big hunk of French bread and glass of Pinot Noir can't hurt either.

Bon appetite!

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