Sunday, July 25, 2010

Two Picnic Salads

Yesterday, I went on a picnic to the Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park. Mackenzie King was the very eccentric Prime Minister of Canada during WWII.  His summer estate in Gatineau Park is really beautiful, and oddly enough, King decided he wanted his own "ruins," so there are fake ruins all over the property. It was a really nice place to have a picnic and there is also a tearoom there, so I will most likely go back again for tea!

The two salads both turned out really well. The Antipasto Salad was really good, and I'll probably be making it again next weekend!  The corn, tomato, and zucchini salad was good, but this corn and tomato salad is better!  The Antipasto is from Celebrate the Rain from the Junior League of Seattle and the Corn and Tomato is my own interpretation of several recipes.

Antipasto Pasta Salad
Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 small shallots, quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped, pitted, brine-cured olives (I used an Italian mix)
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
12 ounces dried penne
1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken breast
1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, in thin strips (my addition)
1 cup diced fresh mozzarella (I used goat cheese)

Puree the dressing ingredients in a food processor.  With the blades running, slowly add the oil through the chute and process until smooth (I left mine a little bit chunky so that there were still visible pieces of sun-dried tomatoes in the salad).  Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse to blend.  Pour the dressing into a medium bowl, add the olives, artichoke hearts, and red peppers and stir to coat.  Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the penne to al dente, about 10-12 minutes.  Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink and run cold water over to cool the pasta, then drain well and transfer the pasta to a large bowl.  Pour the dressing and vegetables over, add the chicken, tomatoes, and cheese and toss to evenly mix.

The pasta salad can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated, though the cheese and tomatoes should be added just before serving.  The salad will be more flavourful, too, if allowed to come to room temperature.

Summer Vegetable Salad

4 ears of corn
1 1/2 cups diced and de-seeded heirloom tomatoes
2 zucchini, diced
3/4 cup light sour cream
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. basil, chiffonade
Salt and pepper

Cook the corn in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes.  Remove corn and when cool, use a large knife to cut the kernels off the cob. Steam the diced zucchini until bright green, do not cook too long. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix Worcestershire sauce and sour cream together. Pour over vegetables in a large bowl, add salt, pepper, and basil and mix to coat the vegetables. Serve immediately.

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