Easiest Pasta Salad

Simple, colourful, and utterly satisfying. Probably prettier in a wooden bowl, but you know, beggars can't be choosers.

Simple, colourful, and utterly satisfying. Probably prettier in a wooden bowl, but you know, beggars can’t be choosers.

Last summer, I lived for a while with some wonderful folks with an amazing patio. You know, the kind that is level with the widest branches of the trees and suspends you above the rest of the city, filtered through the greenery? This location magically inspired food with lots of fresh vegetables. I ate a LOT of salad. Something about being outdoors inspires further freshness. But because raw veggies can only take you so far, I started finding ways to mix grains into my creations. The pasta salad of my youth was an egg-ridden, totally gross swamp of cholesterol, dodgy food standards and sodium. This variation couldn’t be further removed from that science experiment of a side dish.

This little pasta salad is easy-peasy, varied, and filling enough to be a meal in itself. It follows a simple formula, and the secret is in the sauce. No gross eggy-stuff required.

  1. Pick a cute little pasta. I like bowties. Things like shells tend to stick to each other too much. Macaroni is good, if you’re down with the retro-feel of the uniform elbows.
  2. Pick fresh, flavourful vegetables in four different colours. Colour is important to the appreciation of this dish. It symbolizes the variety and abundance of harvest times. I like crunchy veggies and ones that suck up sauces thirstily, like broccoli.
  3. Use good herbs. I use dried marjoram, thyme, and tarragon. And then fresh parsley and/or cilantro. The fresh parsley really contributes to the flavour of this dish, so try not to ditch it. Use the flat-leaf kind, it’s tastier and has a nicer texture.
  4. Infuse your olive oil. Take a good olive oil, and brown a whole lot of minced garlic in it. It will infuse the oil with garlic flavour, which will then distribute evenly through the pasta. If you want some kick, use dried chilis in your olive oil infusion. Go ahead and add some capers, sundried tomatoes, or marinated artichoke hearts for tang and depth. Stir in some nooch, dijon and almond flour enough to make a cream. Add lemon juice and cider or wine vinegar (yes, both) until it is thinned enough to just coat the back of a spoon. Toss liberally with your salad.
  5. I like fresh greens, such as rough chopped arugula, spinach or chard stirred in at the last minute. It makes it all feel fresher and brighter.
  6. Go ahead and add some beans. Chickpeas, small white beans and green lentils are nice.

This recipe makes me long for summer days and crisp, cool Rieslings sipped on the porch. Also, it pulls together in maybe 20 minutes. Can’t go wrong.

Advertisements

Summer Raw Cleanse and BodyRock

Hello! I’m back after quite a hiatus. In fairness, it was a hiatus that involved a new job, moving across the country and a vacation with the fam. So here I am in sunny Montreal, surrounded by beautiful, tiny, young French girls and I’m feeling the residual effects of Edmonton in my bones. I always become a hermit for the harsh winter, but living where we were, in a basement in suburban Edmonton… I barely left the house if I could avoid it. It was depressing.

I’ve been in Montreal for just over a month now, and if a day goes by without a walk down these old crooked streets I feel like I’m wasting my life away and turn to drink. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But if you knew how good it feels to just exist in this tiny corner of Canada, you’d hate to be trapped indoors by yourself too.

The other great thing about this place is the ample supply of delicious fresh produce everywhere, for totally reasonable prices. The bio (organic) market a block away from my apartment sells produce for better prices than the non-bio produce at the regular grocery store. That, plus the heat and humidity that feel so foreign to my body, are motivating me to eat light. You don’t need to cook tomatoes to death when they taste so good, and the fresh, tender kale is perfect just massaged with a bit of lemon and salt. So, I’m thinking it’s time for a bit of a summer cleanse.

How it works: One week, 80% raw, 95% whole foods, 100%  plant-based diet. 80% raw, because that’s a really reasonable balance of raw to cooked foods to maintain in the summer when produce is abundant, cheap, and tasty. 95% whole foods, cause I’ll use coconut milk occasionally, and oil and salt very moderately- you need fat to absorb nutrients from plants anyway and I don’t have fancy non-stick cookware for my cooked foods. Plus, salt makes food delicious. Also, I’ll throw in a glass of wine or two for good measure. 100% plant-based, because I only eat plants anyways, there’s simply no need to eat anything else! Feel free to join me or try out some of the recipes, and leave a comment if you do- it would be great to hear! I’ll post what I’ve been eating, maybe it will give you some ideas.

In addition I will be doing BodyRock exercises daily. BodyRock offers a free, high intensity, short, daily video workout that’s different from day to day, and can be done in your home with whatever you have on hand. I won’t be doing them in the order they are released, I’ll pick and choose from past workouts, and I will be supplementing them with my usual 20 mins of cardio, stretching and belly dance isolation drills. If you are getting bored with your exercise routine, want a challenge or even if you don’t work out at all and you want to start, try it out! Just do what you can, don’t worry about not being able to make it more than halfway through a set, or doing only half the cardio time. You need to start somewhere, so just listen to your body and work within your limits.

Day 1

Workout- 12 mins BodyRock, 20 mins cardio, 10 mins stretching, 15 flights of stairs, 30 mins drills (do the cardio right after the BodyRock. Trust me, it’s a good idea ;))

Breakfast smoothie with a small banana, frozen blueberries, ground hemp seeds and soy milk.
Post-workout hemp protein shake and some fresh berries.
Mexican salad with romaine, black beans, red peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin and hot sauce.
Raw kale salad with sauteed criminis, tomatoes, red onion
Raw veggies with salsa
Half an orange

Yum yum 🙂