Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pesto Pasta Salad

Sorry to have been such a bad/absent/lazy blogger lately; between a couple of trips and Mother Nature setting the thermostat to "HELL," I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen. 

In weather like this the only sensible thing is to get up ridiculously early and make a big vat of something to be eaten later. This was invariably the approach taken by my eminently sensible mother when I was growing up; by the time her kids were up and about, there'd be potato and/or pasta and/or tuna salad stowed away in Tupperware, ready to be served up at dinnertime with some bread and a green salad. 

Alas that her domestic ambition (and organizational skills) were not passed along to yours truly, who instead found myself whipping up this salad in my sweltering hellscape of a kitchen at 6pm last night, watching the ice cubes in a freshly made gin & tonic return to their original state almost before I could take a sip. Dante-esque conditions notwithstanding, I abandoned neither hope nor my dinner plans, and this pasta salad proved an ideal midsummer meal. I will certainly make this recipe again, but next time I'll try to drag my ass downstairs before Satan gets all crazy with the thermostat. 

Stay cool, kids.

Pesto Pasta Salad
The Pesto
~ ¼ cup olive oil
~ ¾ cup pine nuts
~ ½ cup nutritional yeast
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano
~ 2 cups chopped, fresh basil
~ 3/4 - 1 cup water (more or less as needed)
~ A few grinds of black pepper

~ Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Use as much water as you need to get the thickness and texture of a creamy salad dressing.

The Pasta Salad
~ 1 lb. salad-friendly pasta (penne, fusilli, etc.)
~ 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets (save the stalks for something else)
~ 2 carrots, julienned
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 6 ounces baked and.or smoked tofu, cubed

~ Heat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Add the cubed tofu and bake for 15 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
~ In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. In the last three minutes of cooking time, add the broccoli and carrots to the pot. Drain into a large colander and rinse with cold water immediately.
~ Return the drained pasta and cooked vegetables to the pot and add the bell pepper, the baked tofu, and the pesto. Mix thoroughly and chill for at least an hour before serving.

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