Pasta Nicoise

The 17th of Tammuz marks the day when the walls of ancient Jerusalem were breached by the enemy, which of course was the beginning of the end. We’ve been “wandering Jews” ever since. Seems to me I’ve done my fair share of wandering too.

And it’s summer. As if the heat weren’t enough, we feel slowed down by these heavy reminiscences. But, listen—there’s no law against finding refreshment and rejuvenation in our meals during this time! A thoughtful cook will devise cool, colorful dishes that will lighten the spirit. What we want is fly-away light, butterfly light—meals that go down smooth and sweet, and won’t weigh you down afterward. I have recipes for those perfect summer meals—the kind that make you want to kick off your shoes and go play in the sand. Ingredients for these delectable dishes are probably in your pantry already, so get cooking.

Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 9 to 11 minutes
Chill Time: none
Yield: 6 servings

PastaNicoise1

  • 1 (12-ounce) box rotini, cooked according to package directions
  • ½ (15-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can green beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pitted black olives, drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) can white albacore tuna in water, drained
  • 12 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ¼ cup baby spinach leaves

For dressing:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Imitation bacon bits, for garnish (optional)

1. In a salad bowl, place pasta, hearts of palm, green beans, olives, tuna, tomatoes, capers and spinach.
2. Place all dressing ingredients in blender or food processor, and mix until smooth and creamy.
3. Pour over pasta and tuna. Toss to coat evenly.
4. Garnish with imitation bacon bits, if desired.

Tip:

You can add variety to this dish by adding ¼ cup anchovy fillets. Or for a sweet touch, add 2 tablespoons of craisins. If you have loads of time, substitute fresh tuna steaks for canned tuna. Season both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper, and broil or sear.

By Jamie Geller

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