The al dente pasta in this salad makes it nice and hardy, while the vegetables keep it fresh and light. This salad is great to take to a party, or at the dinner table as a main or side dish.
Large Pot of Water
handful of Green Beans - ends trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 pint Cherry Tomatoes - cut in half
1/2-1 Yellow Hot Chili/Hungarian Wax pepper - thinly sliced, seeds removed
Green Onion or Chives - use scissors a sharp knife to cut into thin slices
2 cloves Garlic - pressed or finely chopped
Lemon juice from half a lemon
Fresh herbs - chopped (I used Sage. Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, or Thyme would also taste great.)
Ziti or any bite size shaped pasta
Fresh Spinach or any hearty leafy green such as romaine lettuce, watercress, endive, young mustard greens, arugula, or a blend of greens
Cover the pot of water and bring it up to a boil over medium-high to high heat. When the water boils remove the lid, heavily salt the water, and add the green beans. Cook the beans for about two minuets, no longer.
In the meantime, put the tomatoes, hot peppers, green onion, garlic, lemon zest and juice in a large bowl.
After the beans have cooked for a minute or two, use a skimmer-strainer spoon or tongs to remove the green beans from the water while reserving the water for the pasta. Mix the green beans in with the other vegetables.
Bring the water back up to a boil. Once the water is boiling, put a couple handfuls of pasta in it. Cook the pasta to al dente*, as directed on the package.
As the pasta cooks, add your chopped herbs and olive oil to the bowl of vegetables. I used about a 1/4 cup of oil. Use less at first and then add more if need.
When the pasta is done, remove it from the pot with the same skimmer used to remove the beans, or drain it using a colander. Then add it directly to your bowl, don't rinse the pasta.
Season with salt and pepper.
Mix the pasta and veggies together. Make sure that everything gets nicely coated with lemon juice and olive oil.
Taste the salad and add more seasoning if needed.
I served this ziti salad over a bed of fresh spinach and topped it with Tarragon Baked Salmon.
*After the pasta has cooked for about 6 minute, remove one piece from the water. Carefully take a bite of the pasta, it will be hot. It's done when there's just a thin line in the center of the pasta that's not cooked through i.e. al denta.