Pasta Salad with Cilantro Shallot Dressing

It’s hot out. I love it, but it’s true. And when it’s hot, I like to eat food that is not. Pasta salad is one of my favorite meals – sometimes I’ll be eating pasta salad for lunch for like 5 days in a row. So I’ve been looking at a lot of summer salad and pasta recipes online lately and nothing feeds cooking inspiration like an empty fridge, so off to the market I went. And here’s what I came up with: lots of fresh veggies with a cilantro and shallot dressing (which I borrowed from the corn relish from the Calabaza Soup recipe I posted back when a hot soup was an essential part of my diet).

You could totally change/substitute the veggies I’ve used for any you prefer, but this is a good combo that’s readily available in the summa time.

First, mix the dressing so that it has plenty of time to get good flavors going. One shallot, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoon); fresh cilantro, also finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons); 1/4 teaspoon of salt; a pinch of sugar (or a dollop of honey); about 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice; and last but not least, about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Mix all of this together and let it sit while you prepare the salad.

Also, while you prepare the salad you should get a pot of water boiling for the pasta.

Now for the salad. First, cucumber: about 1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and cut into 1cm square cubes.

Then, one avocado.

Then, some cherry tomatoes, quartered.

Next, cheese. I used a fresh cheese that I’m not sure I’ve seen outside of Spain, but it’s very mild and very soft. Maybe a fresh mozzarella would be a good substitute, or even a soft goat cheese. You could even go a creamier route and use ricotta.

And, corn (a small can, well drained). I love corn in salads… It’s a fact.

Next, some arugula. I love the peppery taste arugula gives salads, but you could also use mixed baby greens or baby spinach too. And last but not least, the cooked pasta. This was one cup, uncooked.

Right before you’re ready to eat, toss it with the dressing. I made this for two people, though my proportions got away from me a little bit, so probably 3 people could have eaten this… Anyway, the point is, adjust your proportions of veggies and pasta according to how many people you’re making it for.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Squares

I’m officially in “summer mode”. Classes are winding down and I only have to work a few hours each afternoon. I’m at the point where I have to remind myself several times a day to remember that I have to go to work. So today after sleeping in, having a leisurely breakfast, going for a run, and still finding myself with nothing in particular to do, I felt like baking something. Only problem: I really did not feel like going out to the store – you know how that is, right? After a quick look in the pantry and the discovery of a whole lemon and some butter in the fridge (two things I rarely have!), I confirmed that, yes, I did have all the ingredients necessary to make some Lemon Squares!

The first step is to mix 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter with 1/4 cup of sugar – use a fork or a mixer – until they are creamed together. Then add 1 cup of flour little by little. I used half whole-wheat and half all-purpose, not for any other reason than that I didn’t have enough left of either type to do all one (seriously, summer mode). Keep mixing these with a fork or mixer until it looks like fine crumbs, but still holds together when you pinch it. Spread this mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased pan – the recipe called for a square 8in x 8in, but I used a rectangular one and just reduced baking time a bit. Press it down and bake at 350 ºF (or 176 ºC) for 13 minutes.

You have to let this cool before pouring in the topping, so while you wait you can make that. First, beat 3 large eggs until they get frothy.

Then, add 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of lemon zest, 1/3 cup of lemon juice (this is approximately the entire zest and all of the juice of one large lemon – good thing, because that is all I had!), 3 tablespoons of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Mix together well and when the crust has cooled, pour it over the top and bake at the same temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s set.

Once the Lemon Squares are cool, sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and cut into 15 squares.

So, these are delicious. Like really, really delicious. And I was excited about them because they are only 120 calories each, but now I’ve eaten two already! These are not going to last long…

Anyway, I love lemon desserts in the summer, so this is a winner!

Ingredient List:

Crust:

  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour

Topping:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

*Recipe from Cooking Light (link)

This Exists

Last night a water pipe burst in my apartment (How is it that these things always happen in the middle of the night??), but a good insurance company and knowing that this is in the world made things a lot better.

I have been seeing commercials on TV for this: it’s Philadelphia Cream Cheese in a love affair with Milka Milk Chocolate – and it’s finally made it to my local supermarket and, in turn, to my stomach. Why did no one thing of this before??

Happy Friday, everyone!!