With the crazy uneven weather we’ve been having since March here in Michigan it’s been kind of hard to know whether to make comfort food or to break out the grill. Since the farm markets around Ann Arbor are offering early season veggies, I’m going with the spring theme. This is a garden-variety (as it were) Kitty’s Spring Pasta Salad that I love to make when there’s a lot of fresh produce around. You can mix & match as you like – and followed by a very easy Rhubarb Crisp.
The pasta salad is perfect with grilled chicken or fish – and served with one of Sandhill Crane Vineyard’s refreshing semi-sweet whites, such as the 2010 Riesling or Overture. If you want a dessert wine to go with the rhubarb crisp, try one of the winery’s meads – the blueberry (Blue Skies) or Sweet Ellie.
When you buy the pasta go for a corkscrew or ridged version. The dressing stays in those little crevices. Most pastas come in 1 pound packages, which is many servings when cooked – so you may want to halve it, depending on how many servings you’re aiming for. And adjust the veggies accordingly. So totally unregimented!
Kitty’s Spring Pasta Salad
Cook pasta to the al dente stage according to package directions. If you’re going to add peas, beans or asparagus you can toss the raw prepped veggies into the pasta water at the last few minutes or so of cooking – about 1 min. for peas and 3 min. for the others.
As soon as it’s ready, drain it all and place in a large bowl. Add any or all of these lovely items, then the dressing. Mix well and enjoy.
green peas; sliced green beans; sliced asparagus; cherry tomatoes; olives, any kind (I like Kalamata); roasted red peppers, chopped (from a jar or grilled by you); capers; feta or bleu cheese crumbles; chopped English cucumbers; sliced radishes; chopped green onion or chives; chopped fresh mint: toasted pumpkin seeds; fresh dill
Whisk together 1st six ingredients; gradually whisk in olive oil. At the end if you whisk in some Dijon mustard it will help the dressing emulsify.
2 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
If the rhubarb stalks are large you may want to peel them. Otherwise, don’t bother.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set rack in the center of the oven. Prepare the topping by placing all of the topping ingredients into a food processor. Pulse or mix until the mixture is crumbled to the size of small peas; don’t over process. Set aside. Pour the rhubarb directly into a large, shallow baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons of flour, mixing to coat evenly. Spread crisp topping over entire surface. Bake until fruit is bubbly and the top is golden brown, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or room temp, plain or with ice cream.