summer salads (pasta & otherwise)

One of the best things about good weather is quick summer salads .... that consist of less lettuce and more of pasta and everything else that is fresh. I've been doing a lot of cold pasta salads recently and really loving the results. To be clear, I am pretty much winging it every time ... so I feel pretty lucky. Summer salads are perfect for Sunday dinner on the fire escape. I'm pretty much in love with my little Sunday tradition.

On an unrelated note, my neighbor Debbie is back. Debbie lives across the alley from me ... and she has been "missing" for two weeks. I knew she was missing because it's moderately terrified me how similar our schedules and tv tastes were. She may stay up later than I do, but we both get up early and like to watch Wheel of Fortune. And until her recent return, she didn't really have substantive curtains... I know this because I saw her ironing in her underwear at 7 am one Sunday morning.

But Debbie is back. She had foot surgery so she's literally trapped in her apartment until the end of July. She told me all about her foot surgery but all I understood was the word "chevron" and bunion ... some how they are related. I do want to know how she settled on green for a cast color.

I do feel a little bit like I should bring Debbie something while she's trapped... and maybe it will be one of these summer salads. Super easy and seasonal and winning.

BTW. The thing with these easy pasta salads is that there are no amounts of anything. Just chop and add until you are satisfied.

Mint & Prosciutto
In the past I've only used mint for iced tea... well know I've used it braised chicken and summer pasta. It doesn't add an excessive amount of flavor, just enough. Think of the mint like basil... add just before serving.
(1) Cook your pasta until it is al dente. I went with linguine that I broke in half before cooking. 
(2) After its done cooking, give it a healthy dose of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together.
(3) Add chopped sun-dried tomato, unfrozen baby peas, torn mint ... and prosciutto. Since there are limited occasions when cheese should be skipped, I also added grated parm. 

olive oil
fresh mint
sun-dried tomato
frozen peas

Tomato & Corn & Cucumber Chopped Salad

I had no idea what a persian cucumber was before this ... but they are pretty great. Essentially they are smaller than regular cucumbers and have less seeds - which make them great for chopped salads. This salad is perfect for those hot hot hot days when anything in the kitchen seems like too much. I didn't even cook the corn a bit... just sliced the kernels right off and into the bowl.

2 handfuls of ripe cherry/grape tomatoes, cut in small dice
4 Persian cucumbers, cut in small dice
2 ears corn, uncooked and kernels removed from the cob
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

Corn & Pesto & More

Fresh pesto makes me very happy... and so does corn. I had some leftover ingredients from my Sunday special chopped salad... so I pretty much just used everything from Sunday and added pesto and some noodles. My first batch of pesto this summer was more arugula than basil... this was pretty pure. Basil, pine nuts, and parm. Next time? I'm going to toss in some mint. And maybe take a picture of the end result.

(1) Cook your chosen pasta shape until it is al dente. I went with orichette and didn't regret it.
(2) Whip up a batch of pesto (original recipe and proportions)
(3) Pretty much toss in all the leftover ingredients from the chopped salad

2 cups Small shaped pasta
1 ear of corn
2 Persian cucumbers
1/4 cup diced red onion
handful of cherry/grape tomatoes, diced

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