Monday, March 23, 2015

Pasta Salad - Plus Peppers and Carrots and Broccoli... oh my!

Moving off the boat after a short project-filled few weeks at the dock or following a lengthy cruise, means our meals grow interesting. It reminds me of an episode of the TV show Chopped where cooks prepare a dish from a basket filled with "must-use" ingredients. Thankfully boat cooking is considerably less exotic than the TV challenge. Some days we win with new flavor combinations, on other days the food is just... unusual. The goal is to empty the fridge and freezer in case of a power outage on the dock while we are gone. Most of the assorted bottles and jars that fill the refrigerator door shelves will survive a brief power interruption, but experience has taught me not to leave any meat or seafood in the freezer. Don't ask, it's a marriage-threatening tale.

One recent end-of-stay breakfast was a winning combination of apple-filled, syrup-drizzled, sourdough crepes topped with sliced almonds and apple pie-flavored whipped cream. Sigh! what a decadent contrast to a more typical bowl of cereal, yogurt and sliced bananas. Apples are on the traveler's prohibited food list for transport across the US and CDN border in either direction, and I hated to waste the few beauties remaining in our fruit bowl, thus the apple crepes. Fruits with seeds, stone fruits, potatoes and onions, dairy, some meats, etc. are on the list. This list is long and seemingly variable so it's easiest not to carry much uncooked food north or south in order to avoid Custom's delays. But I digress... let's move on to lunch and a tasty, colorful pasta salad packed with vegetables and protein.

Pasta salad shines as a superstar dish, versatile and ready to embrace a mixed assortment of vegetables, cheeses and occasionally protein. The latest combination was colorful with a rainbow assortment of mini peppers, broccoli and carrots. Cavatappi is always a favorite short pasta, its open curls attract other ingredients in a welcoming hug and hold the dressing as well. Cheeses, capers and some protein added more flavor punch and a zesty vinaigrette dressing pulled it all together. The dish served as a hearty lunch for two, plus a generous portion left over for a next-day snack on the southbound ferry. 

 Pasta Salad Plus Peppers and Carrots and Broccoli, oh my!
  • cooked cavatappi (5 generous handfuls uncooked pasta)
  • 6 fat green onions, chopped 
  • 1 cup of diced mini sweet peppers 
  • 1 cup broccoli flowerettes, blanched  
  • 1/2 cup carrot coins, blanched  
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed capers 
  • 1 cup shredded mixed cheeses (Parmesan & mozzarella) 
  • 3 slices of hard salami julienned 
  • 1 small can of premium, solid tuna packed in oil
The dressing included: 
  • 1/2 package dehydrated onion soup dip mix
  • 5-count swirl of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-count swirl of balsamic vinegar
  • 2-count swirl of seasoned rice vinegar
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce on the side for individual tastes 
You know the drill: 

  1. Cook, drain and rinse the pasta, drain again
  2. While the pasta cooks, prep the vegetables and slice the meat
  3. Prepare the dressing; taste and adjust seasonings
  4. In a large bowl combine the cooled and drained pasta, chopped vegetables, meats and dressing mixture. Toss gently to coat all with the dressing. 
  5. Let rest for several minutes, then toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings - at this point I usually add some hot sauce and red pepper flakes.

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