Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Side: Chilled Pasta Salad with Basil Cucumber Ribbons

Difficulty: Easy

Prep/Cook Time: 20 min

Chill Time: 30 min

Serves (4)

This dish stays true to the simplicity of traditional pasta salad, yet offers a bolder appeal and elegance. With vibrant flavors and distinct textures, each ingredient can be tasted for its full potential. Don't let the chill time steer you away. Prepare the meal up to 24 hrs ahead of time, and when ready to serve, top with shaved cucumber ribbons for some added pizazz.

Ingredients: 8 oz spaghetti, 1 cucumber, 2 small onions, 1 1/3 cup sweet peas, 2 medium tomatoes, 1 cup sliced olives, basil, salt, pepper, romano cheese for topping, and your favorite Italian dressing

Bring water to boil and cook spaghetti until al dente. Once cooked, drain spaghetti and spread out on plate for faster cooling. Place plate in refrigerator.

Slice onions. Place in lightly oiled pan with peas over medium heat. Heat onions and peas until onions begin to soften and peas are soft (about 10 min). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. We want the onions to keep most of their brightness and crunch--so be careful to not overcook them. Remove peas and onions from pan and spread out on plate. Place plate in the refrigerator.

Slice tomatoes into chunks. Slice olives. Place tomatoes and olives in refrigerator.

Peel cucumber. Slice cucumber in half. Using a potato peeler, peel cucumber into strips until you reach the seeds. Sprinkle cucumber peels with basil. Refrigerate.

After 30 min, remove all ingredients from refrigerator and combine in large bowl. Mix with your favorite Italian dressing. Plate spaghetti. Roll cucumber peels to make tubes (it's fine if some tubes unroll). Arrange on top of spaghetti. Top with grated romano cheese.

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