The calendar and general back-to-school atmosphere may say "September," but the thermometer is firmly stuck on "summer," which means that salads are still far more appealing than the autumnal soups, stews, and casseroles we'll be craving in a month or two. Which is fine, since the farmers markets (and my refrigerator) are bursting with beautiful fresh produce, just waiting to be tossed with some oil, vinegar, garlic, and spices and eaten with a nice cold glass of what you fancy. The inclusion of chickpeas and/or white beans in today's pasta salad makes it a perfect warm weather meal all on its own, but it would also be a welcome addition to cookouts, potlucks, or a more elaborate lunch or dinner (even without a spectacular view of the Aegean).
Greek-Style Pasta Salad
~ 1 lb. penne, fusilli, or similar-sized pasta
~ 1 large red onion, cut into large dice
~ 1 generous cup each: chopped tomato, diced cucumber, artichoke hearts, chopped kalamata olives
~ ¾-1 cup each, chopped fresh: basil, parsley
~ 1 15 oz. can chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 ¾ cups cooked)
~ ¼ cup each: extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar
~ 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
~ 1 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, oregano, marjoram, dill
~ A few grinds fresh black pepper
~ Cook the pasta according to package directions. About two minutes before the pasta is done, add the diced red onion. Drain in a large colander and rinse with cold water and set aside.
~ Place the tomato, cucumber, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, fresh basil and parsley, and the chickpeas or beans in a large bowl (optimally one with a lid), and stir well.
~ In a separate bowl or beaker, mix together the oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and dry seasonings.
~ Add half the cooked pasta and onions to the vegetables in the bowl, pour over half the dressing, and mix well. Stir in the remaining pasta and dressing and give the salad a good stir to make sure everything is coated.
~ Cover and chill for at least a few hours before serving cold or at room temperature.