Tapenade Pasta Salad Recipe
This fabulous composed salad is almost a meal in itself. The strong, zippy taste and fresh look will tempt flagging appetites in the summer heat -- but the salad is also hearty enough to be satisfying in the winter. To blow them away, serve on the table in a glass bowl if you have one because the salad also looks fabulous. Just serve with good bread. It is also very healthy, giving you your veg, carbohydrate and protein all at once.
- In quite a large bowl, mix together the tapenade, olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- Stick your finger in, and taste. Add salt if you feel it needs it -- it depends on how salty the tapenade is.
- Trim off the roots and the upper ends of the green onions, chop the green onions finely, and stir into the tapenade dressing.
- Stir in the parsley (if using fresh, use 3 tbsp fresh, minced first before measuring.)
- Set the large bowl aside for a bit.
- Trim asparagus stalks, and chop into 2 inch (2 1/2 to 5 cm) or so pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 7 minutes (we're aiming to have just a tidge of crunch left in them), then drain, plunge into cold water for a few minutes, then drain again.
- EGGS: Hard boil the eggs. (If you are feeding a lot of good appetites, you can use 5 or 6 eggs.) Do it the way you know, or, place eggs in a saucepan, cover in cold water, bring to a boil on the stove, then reduce immediately to a low simmer for 5 minutes. Drain them, and set aside to cool. When cool, shell the eggs and cut into quarters.
- CHERRY TOMATOES: Wash, and cut them in half. Set aside.
- SALAD LEAVES: Wash and let drain / dry.
- PASTA: Boil it according to package directions for al dente, and drain.
- Now, put it all together.
- While pasta is still warm, add it to the large bowl along with (a) the halved cherry tomatoes and (b) the cooked, drained asparagus pieces, and fold it all together gently (really, it's easiest with your hands.)
- MAKE AHEAD TIP: At this point, you could refrigerate the salad for completion later in the day. If you refrigerate, put cover the bowl and place in fridge, then for serving remove from fridge and bring it back up to room temperature before serving. If it looks a bit dry to you, the pasta may have absorbed some of the oil: stir a few glugs of olive oil back in to freshen its appearance.
- Just before serving, add the salad leaves and toss well (again, easiest with your hands), then place salad in a bowl and top with the quartered eggs.
The recipe has several steps, but each is very easy and in the end you just throw it all together. If you have fresh parsley, use 3 tablespoons chopped instead of 1 tablespoon dried. You can either buy the tapenade at the store, or see the easy blender recipe on this site. You can easily substitute the asparagus for 1/2 pound (225g) of green or yellow beans. Use a shaped pasta, such as penne, etc. Use 1 pound (454 or 500g bag). If you're using penne, in volume measurement, that's about 6 cups ( 1 1/2 US quarts). Instead of red wine vinegar, you can substitute sherry vinegar, or balsamic, but as those are softer vinegars, the salad may miss a bit of tang, so consider sneaking in a teaspoon or two of sharp white or cider vinegar as well. What you use for salad leaves is up to you; we've written Rocket (arugula) above, but you could also use mesclun mix, easily available in most UK and North American supermarkets these days. Basically, you want a salad leaf with a bit of bite in it to stand up to the olive tapenade, so poor old Iceberg Lettuce probably wouldn't do it, though you could try.