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Saturday, October 15, 2005
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Back to headlines
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Salad recipes

 

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PNC Park Pasta Salad

Joe Appel/Tribune-Review; Food styling: Karin Welzel/Tribune-Review

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Chicken and Pasta Salad with Blueberries

Joe Appel/Tribune-Review; Food styling: Karin Welzel/Tribune-Review

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Chinese Noodle Salad

Joe Appel/Tribune-Review; Food styling: Karin Welzel/Tribune-Review

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By The Tribune-Review
Sunday, August 7, 2005

PNC Park Pasta Salad

On the menu at skyboxes and private suites at PNC Park is this signature recipe, developed by Levy Restaurants, the company in charge of the PNC Park's private catering. Chef Kevin Holler shared the recipe, adapted for the home kitchen. Cavatappi is a tubular corkscrew or spiral-shaped pasta, about 1 inch long, that originated in southern Italy. Ciliegini are cherry-shaped balls of fresh mozzarella. Look for them at Italian markets and supermarket antipasto or salad bars.

  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta (6 cups uncooked)
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • 2 ounces (3/4 cup) red onions cut in julienne
  • 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 5 ounces fresh mozzarella ciliegini (about 15 balls, cut in half if large)
  • 5 ounces (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Basil Pesto Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil cut in chiffonade
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook the pasta in well-salted boiling water. Drain, but do not rinse. Toss the pasta in olive oil and let it cool on a sheet pan. Refrigerate immediately after cooling.


In a bowl, combine the red onion, tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Toss with half of the chilled pasta.

Add the Basil Pesto Vinaigrette and taste for seasonings. Adjust with kosher salt and black pepper, if needed.

Place the mixture in a salad bowl. Arrange the remaining tomato mixture on top. Garnish with parmesan cheese, pine nuts and basil chiffonade.

Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

  • 10 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces prepared basil pesto
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper, more if needed

Mix the olive oil, pesto, balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Chicken and Pasta Salad with Blueberries

This recipe is from "The Big Book of Easy Suppers" by Maryana Vollstedt (Chronicle Books, $19.95 paperback). If you dislike tarragon, Vollstedt offers an alternate Creamy Dressing featuring chervil or basil. If you are cooking chicken breasts to use for the meat in this recipe, cook the pasta in the broth. Two bone-in chicken breast halves will give you about 2 cups shredded meat.

  • 8 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) penne, cooked according to package directions, drained, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Creamy Tarragon Dressing (recipe follows); or Creamy Dressing (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the oil. Cover and refrigerate until cool. Add the chicken, celery, sweet pepper, onion and parsley and toss with enough of the dressing to coat.

Cover and chill several hours to allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving, fold in the blueberries and sprinkle with the almonds.

Makes 6 servings.

Creamy Tarragon Dressing

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 green onions, including some tender green tops, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar; or 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar plus 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients and process until well-blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 1 cup.

Creamy Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chervil or basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Pesto Tortellini Salad

This recipe is from "The Tailgater's Cookbook" by David Joachim (Broadway Books, $14.95 paperback).

  • 2 pounds refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini
  • Salt
  • Water
  • 1/2 cup Basil Pesto (recipe follows); or prepared basil pesto
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped (green and white parts); or 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the tortellini in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Add the peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain the pasta and peas together. Let cool slightly.

Mix the pesto and olive oil in a large bowl. Stir in the tomato, green onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pepper, pasta and peas. Cover and chill for as long as 2 days. Remove from the refrigerator or cooler 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Basil Pesto

  • 2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 10 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • 2 cups grated imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the garlic, basil, cheese, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Blend until finely chopped, for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl, then add 3/4 cup oil and blend to a loose paste, for about 20 seconds, scraping the bowl as necessary. For a thinner pesto, blend in the remaining oil a tablespoon at a time until thinned to the desired consistency.

Scrape into 2 small airtight containers and chill as long as 1 week or freeze as long as 1 year. Two containers allow you 1-cup portions of pesto, because you rarely will need 2 cups at one time.

Makes 2 cups.

Chinese Noodle Salad

This recipe is from "The Tailgater's Cookbook" by David Joachim (Broadway Books, $14.95 paperback).

  • 1 pound dried Chinese wheat noodles or linguine
  • 1 cup snow peas, about 1/4 pound
  • 1 cup hot vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot
  • 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Cook the noodles according to package directions until tender but not mushy. Slice the snow peas lengthwise into thin strips.

Mix the broth and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar melts. Whisk in the peanut butter, ginger, tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, hot pepper sauce and cilantro.

Just before draining the noodles, transfer 3 tablespoons hot noodle water to the bowl and mix it in. Drain the noodles and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Add the noodles to the bowl along with the snow peas. Mix thoroughly and scatter the sesame seeds over the top. Cover and chill for as long as 2 days. Remove from the refrigerator or cooler 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Couscous Salad with Arugula, Cucumbers and Mint

This recipe is from "Fresh Choices" by David Joachim (Rodale, $18.95 paperback). Couscous is a tiny pasta made from semolina, a coarsely ground form of durum wheat.

  • 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups gently packed arugula leaves
  • 1/3 medium English (seedless) cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 cup couscous, preferably whole-wheat
  • 2 3/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (optional)

Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a medium bowl. Whisk in 4 tablespoons oil in a slow steady stream until thoroughly blended. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt and all of the pepper. Stir in the arugula, cucumbers and mint. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the couscous, tossing until coated with the oil, for about 1 minute. Add the hot broth and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Bring to a vigorous simmer, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand until the liquid is absorbed, for about 8 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.

Stir in the arugula mixture, then cover and let stand until the arugula is slightly wilted, for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the pine nuts, if desired.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Beefy Pasta Salad

This recipe is from "Cooking Smart for a Healthy Heart" by Reader's Digest (The Reader's Digest Association Inc., $29.95).

  • 8 ounces rotelle or other small pasta shape
  • Water
  • 6 cups broccoli spears
  • 10 ounces well-trimmed sirloin steak
  • 1 1/4 cups plain nonfat yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium-size red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Add the broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the broiler. Broil the steak 4 inches from the heat for 4 minutes per side for medium or until done to taste. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and thinly slice across the grain, on the diagonal. The steak also can be cooked on the grill.

Combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, basil and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the dressing to a large serving bowl.

To the bowl, add the steak and any juices accumulated on the cutting board and toss to coat. Add the pasta, broccoli, tomatoes and onion to the bowl and toss again.

The recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Bring back to room temperature before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Layered Picnic Pasta Salad

This recipe is from the National Pasta Association.

  • 12 ounces bow-tie or other medium pasta shape
  • 1/2 cup prepared vinaigrette salad dressing, divided
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 3 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain. Return to the cooking pan and toss with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette.

Transfer half of the pasta to a clear glass bowl. Layer with the peas, tomatoes, mushrooms and prosciutto. Top with the remaining pasta and sprinkle with basil. Pour the remaining dressing evenly over the salad. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Serve at once or chill until ready to serve. Toss right before serving to evenly coat with dressing.

Makes 6 servings.

Orecchiette with Truffle Oil

This recipe is from Rita Venturino, the owner of Rita's Italian Table cooking school in Richland. The salad can be served hot or cold. To chiffonade the basil, stack the leaves and tightly roll them. Slice thinly into ribbons. Always save at least 2 cups of the hot pasta water in case the pasta needs to be moistened before serving.

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • Salt
  • Water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white or black truffle oil, divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 (8 ounces) jar roasted red peppers, sliced or slivered
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chiffonade of fresh basil leaves
  • Shaved black truffles (optional)

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Toss it with 1/4 cup truffle oil, 3/4 cup cheese, the roasted peppers, sea salt, black pepper and basil.

To serve, place the pasta in a large serving platter or on individual serving plates. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons truffle oil and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Garnish with as many truffles as you can afford.

Makes 4 entree servings, 8 side-dish servings.

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