Friday, July 13, 2012
Friday Spotlight:Obsessive/Compulsive Pasta Salad Disorder
Fine. I admit it. I have OCPSD.
The Chief has encouraged me to join some kind of group, but I think we can just work through my issues right here. After all, we're all friends, right?
I love a good pasta salad, and loathe a bad one. There should be laws and regulations against what some people do in the name of pasta on a plate.
The pasta salad pictured is one I made recently with farfalle (bow tie) pasta, a little red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoni, spicy salami, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and a little basil pesto mixed with a spicy Italian Dressing to finish it off.
You don't need a recipe. Just add the amount of ingredients that look good to you. Switch them up a bit if you like.
Just make sure you follow Lu's Hard and Fast Rules for Pasta Salad Correctness.
(No pressure intended, of course)
(We're all about fun here)
(Just don't mess up)
(Oh, I'm just kidding)
(I'm a kidder)
But listen up, people.
1. When you boil your pasta cook it (in VERY HEAVILY SALTED WATER) one less minute than suggested on the package for al dente'.
You're going to add some dressing and other things that will soften it up, and the VERY LAST THING ON EARTH that you want is for your pasta to get soggy, fall apart, or lose it's shape.
An untied bow tie is unacceptable.
Do not let your bows untie.
2. If you're using onion of any kind get it chopped up and ready before your pasta is ready. Put the onion in the bowl you plan to mix the salad in and then when your pasta is drained and still hot, pour the pasta on top of the onion and then mix it all together before adding anything else. This softens the onion a bit and takes away the potential for a hard unpleasant bite, and also slightly flavors all the pasta.
Do not go nuts with onion. Have some restraint.
3. Think about your pasta shape. If you're using tubes of some sort (rotini, penne) make sure to cut your other ingredients into sizes that won't disappear and hide inside the tubes. You want to see all the ingredients. As a general rule, try to have all the components approximately the same size...
4. Use some sort of crispy ingredient for a contrast in textures. Toasted nuts are always great. Pine nuts are an excellent choice.
Giada would approve.
5. If using cheese, make sure you wait until the pasta is cooled before adding the cheese. Slightly melted cheese makes for a gooky salad. Typically I add any cheese at the very end, after adding the dressing. If you're using a dry cheese (like Parmesan) the dressing will help the cheese stick to the pasta.
By the way, gooky is a very advanced and technical French cooking term. Don't be embarrassed if you didn't know.
We're all here to learn.
6. Be generous!! with all the components!
7. Be careful with whatever dressing you choose. Add a little at a time and then toss and wait. There will be that perfect point at which the flavor is balanced, and the ingredients are glistening with the dressing but oh my soul, there should be no drippage.
8. Always finish with a little freshly ground (or coarse) black pepper.
OK. Now I feel better. Please carry on.