Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Note:  If this recipe inspired you to use as a guide to make your own, please be considerate and credit annascuisine.wordpress.com.  Thank you!

I was thinking about a pasta salad I created a long time ago when I used to cater. It was one of the best sellers and a hit at parties.  I called it Mediterranean Pasta Salad.  It was healthy and refreshing.  Everyone wanted the recipe, but I only gave it to one of my friends.  After a while,  I’ve seen a similar dish sold by a large merchant in the area.  However, my friend told me that she preferred my recipe because it was refreshing and well seasoned.  The original Italian dressing I used before was not available, so I picked whatever they have on the shelf.  It’s made with extra virgin olive oil.  You can make a homemade dressing and add cucumbers or other raw vegetables of your choice if you prefer.  If some people find the process of making this salad a bit complicated, I suggest you gather all the ingredients before making it to prevent overcooked ingredients.

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Here’s what you’ll need to make this refreshing salad.

DSC_0232Ingredients:

  • 10 cups water, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 cups uncooked Penne Rigate pasta noodles
  • 1/2 of roasted chicken breast, sliced in bite pieces or 1 dozen of medium shrimps
  • 10 stalks of asparagus, cut slanted about an inch
  • 1/4 of large onion, cut lengthwise
  •  12 pieces fresh Mozarella Ciliegine (fresh mini Mozarella balls)
  • 1 medium red bell peppers, cubed
  • 1 medium orange bell peppers, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow bell peppers, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 8 pieces pepperoncini
  • Goya (or a brand of your choice) quartered and marinated artichoke hearts; drained (6 oz.)
  • Pitted Kalamata olives
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing (9-14 oz.)

Directions:

  • Bring 6 cups of water in a pot to a boil.  Add 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes.  Drain completely and place in a large bowl.
  • In a separate pot, bring two cups of water with juice of 1 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil.  Add the shrimp and cook until opaque about 2 minutes.  Drain immediately and completely.  Add in the bowl with pasta.
  • In a separate pot, bring water and 1/4 salt to a boil.  Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute.  Remove immediately and add in the bowl with the shrimp and pasta.
  • Add the remaining ingredients (including the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt).

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Toss to coat or use two ladles and mix until well combined. Cover with Saran wrap and place in the refrigerator.  Marinate for at least  two hours.

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Mix again to make sure the dressing is well incorporated before serving.  Serve in a large salad bowl.

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or individual size salad plate.  Sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese.DSC_0261

©annascuisine.wordpress.com (2013)   Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material herein without expressed and written consent from this blog’s author, Annabelle Bedell, is strictly and completely prohibited.

Saffron Rice

This is the most elegant, tasty rice dish I’ve ever made.  Believe it or not, it’s easy to make.  It’s amazing how a simple dish transformed into a gourmet-looking dish presentable enough to serve to your guests or loved ones, especially on special occasions.

Saffron Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 rice measuring cup of Jasmine rice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 threads high-quality Saffron
  • 2 tbsp. loose chicken bouillon (1 tbsp. if using chicken broth with sodium instead of water)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ of medium onions; minced
  • 3 2/3 C water or chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 stalks of Asparagus, sliced diagonally about an inch size.
  • 1 lemon
  • Lemon for garnish (optional)
  • Italian parsley; minced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Use a 2 1/2 inch deep skillet with a lid and heat over medium heat and add oil when hot.
  2. Add Jasmine rice; stir until all rice is coated with oil.  Leave it for 1 minute or until rice turns light brown and stir.  Repeat until most of the rice turns light brown.
  3. Add garlic and onions and stir frequently at this point until garlic and onions are translucent.
  4. Add water or stock, saffron, and chicken bouillon.  Stir until all ingredients are well combined.
  5. Cover and cook over low heat for 14-18 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Add the asparagus on top of the rice 7 minutes before end of cooking time.
  7. Do not open or remove the lid after adding the asparagus.
  8. Turn off heat when rice is done and tender.  Let it set for 5 minutes to let the steam continue to cook the asparagus.
  9. Before serving, fluff the rice with a fork.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze over cooked rice and mix until all lemon juice is well incorporated.
  10. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and lemon.  Serve warm.

Note:  The liquid and time called for this recipe vary depending on the heat of your stove. Add more water or stock 1/8 cup at a time if needed and let it simmer until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

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©annascuisine.wordpress.com (2013)   Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material herein without expressed and written consent from this blog’s author, Annabelle Bedell, is strictly and completely prohibited.

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