Monday, July 12, 2010

Languorous Basil-Mint Pasta Salad with Citrus Dressing and Two Local Beans

After the basil-mint sorbet, I found myself looking for other ways to combine these two most summery herbs. I've been craving a gentle, languorous summer salad ... not a slaw: I didn't want anything harsh and vinegary. I was thinking more like a little macerated fresh tomato, diced, with a sprinkling of steamed fresh corn kernels ... maybe diced red onion, fresh oregano, all marinated in a very light dressing. But tomatoes and corn are still well around the corner season-wise, so I created this approachable and satisfying salad with ... what else? The glorious produce already on hand.

A couple of months ago a friend called to say someone had stopped by her house selling fresh oranges, and did I want some? They were still in the fridge and still fresh, so a citrus dressing began to evolve.

The basil and mint plants on the patio needed trimming, and my fridge was literally groaning with fresh farmers' market produce. So the hardest part of creating this dish was deciding what to leave out.

I served the salad over fresh market salad greens, but you wouldn't have to.

And I kind of was aiming for a record-setting long name for this recipe, since I usually try to keep them short! Summer is a time for experimenting with new approaches, no?

1 cup orzo pasta

1/2 pound green beans, yellow or green or a mixture, topped and cut in 1-inch lengths
2 small zucchini, in 1/2-inch dice or so
2 cups garbanzo beans (I used my Winter CSA garbanzos that I'd cooked and frozen)
2 bunches green onions, white and light green parts sliced thinly, and about 3 inches of the green tops set aside

1 clove garlic
Green onion tops reserved from above
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup mint leaves

1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Cook the orzo in boiling, salted water for about 9 minutes or until it's al dente. But about 4 minutes before that, toss in the green beans and let them cook just 'til tender crisp but still (if they're green) bright green. I used a mix of yellow and green beans. Drain beans and pasta, then toss them back into the empty pasta pot.

Add to the pasta-bean mixture the zucchini, garbanzo beans, and sliced onions, and stir.

In food processor, whiz the garlic 'til it's chopped fine, then add the basil, mint and green onion tops. Turn the processor on for a few seconds, then pulse just until you have a small, even chop.

Toss the contents of the food processor in with the salad mixture, and stir gently. In small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients, add to salad and stir thoroughly. Cover the salad and refrigerate it for at least a couple of hours before serving, if possible. Stir before serving.

Don't be concerned about the amount of liquid in the dressing ... the pasta and beans will absorb it.

Makes six scrumptious servings.

No comments:

Post a Comment