Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.
My sister Leilani, one of four sisters who are fabulous cooks, agrees to spend the day with me playing in the kitchen. The post-Passover lull has been a respite from catering deadlines and the accompanying barking of orders. I don't miss the sound of my own voice. It hasn't been a break from events on the horizon, events needing paperwork and new menus. The weather doesn't help to put me in a summer food mode and I procrastinate. Yes, an intervention is necessary - writer's block, cooking block - not a good thing!
Lani and I turn our attention to my hundreds of cookbooks. Salads, I want to make salads. I want to make vegetable salads, new pasta salads, a potato salad. Browsing cookbooks, my sister asks if I like scallops. She isn't Jewish and doesn't know that shellfish is off the list. Yeah, that bacon and cheese concoction is sort of off the list, too. What isn't forbidden is not available kosher certified, around here anyway. Champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar, hot chili oil.........
Toss in the fact that we are going to make use of these salads at our mother's gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free birthday party. This recipe fails the final hurdle, nut-free. Too bad, because with some work and a huge list of ingredients, we get a good pasta salad made. I use gluten and corn free quinoa pasta. The biggest issue is that this type of pasta has to be eaten soon after cooking. Refrigerated leftovers are only for those who's life depends upon it. That said, prepped veggies and dressing made in advance make for easy last minute assembly.
The original recipe, gleaned from "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook", calls for 1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil. I can't find any kosher and no, I'm not going to make 1/2 teaspoon...that is up there with milking the cow. Finally, I remember the secret addition to my Asian noodle salad (posted on this website), San-J's Hot and Spicy Szechuan Sauce. I add enough to give the peanut and tehini base a pop. I'm not a fan of peanut, tehini or hot and spicy but this salad is really nice. The dressing would be a good dip for chicken satay, too.
Originally calling for only bell peppers and green onions, sugar snap peas, asparagus, green beans, fried tofu cutlets would be good additions. A friend suggests honey roasted peanuts for sweetened crunch. Yes, the best cure for cooking-block is to just get in the kitchen and cook. Solves the writing block issue, too, when you have a website to post ideas.
|Number of servings:||8 - 10|
|Skill Level:||1 - Easy (1 Easy - 5 Hard)|
|Estimated POINT value:|
Cook the pasta as per the package instuctions until just done. Drain and rinse, place into a large bowl and toss with a drop of oil. If you want to serve this dish hot, do the pasta last. Otherwise, cover and set aside.
Slice the seeded yellow and red bell peppers very thinly. Set aside.
Slice the green onions, white and green parts, on a long bias. Set aside.
Put all the remaining ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Add enough dressing to the pasta to coat. You may have more than you need but the pasta will absorb it. This gives you extra if you need to add more. Add vegetables and toss well. Serve immediately. It is best to assemble this salad before serving. Store separately in the refrigerator and toss at the last minute.
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