It was a hot weekend and perfect for cold pasta salads. They can be so versatile and easy to throw together, either improvisationally or following a new recipe. I did both and made two salads which lasted for a few meals. It's always nice to have leftovers!
The first salad I made was my standard pesto bow tie pasta salad which included petite peas, grape tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts. The dressing included prepared pesto, some mayonnaise and sour cream, salt and pepper. This is one my standards where I sometimes will throw in some leftover chicken or some olives, whatever strikes my fancy at the time.
The second salad was a new one I found on a great food site at the New York Times by Mark Bittman, who has written a number of great cookbooks. His latest endeavor was a travel/cooking show on PBS called Spain-On The Road Again, with Mario Battelli where they traveled all around Spain along with Gwenyth Paltrow and a Spanish actress. It was very entertaining and educational. I want to go to Spain now.
The salad is a cold noodle salad with sesame sauce, chicken and cucumbers. I forgot the cucumbers while shopping so mine was minus that component. I also used 1/4 cup tahini sauce and 1/4 cup peanut butter, whereas Mr. Bittman calls for 1/2 cup tahini. I just thought peanut butter would bolster the flavor a bit more. I also added about 1/2 tsp. of chili flakes along with the hot sauce he calls for. So, those are my modifications to this delicious cold main course salad.
I also experimented with making green onion garnishes just for fun and they turned out very well.Cold Noodles with Sesame/Peanut Sauce, Chicken and Cucumbers
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 lb. sliced cucumber, with the seeds removed
12 oz. long pasta, like linguine or fresh Chinese egg noodles
2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1/2 cup sesame paste or peanut butter
2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp rice or wine vinegar
Hot sauce to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish.Cook pasta until tender but not mushy. Strain and run cold water over them. In a large bowl, whisk together sesame oil and sesame paste, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, hot sauce and pepper. Thin the sauce with hot water so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream, you will need approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Stir in cucumber, pasta and chicken. Toss everything together well and garnish with minced scallions.