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Recipe from Sober Celebrations
A light pasta salad is the perfect accompaniment for your grilled chicken. Here, inspired by the classic French salade nicoise, we'll be tossing the pasta with all its delicious and healthy ingredients sans the luna. For other occasions, you can add two 6-ounce cans of solid white tuna in water, drained and flaked, to make a complete and satisfying lunch salad. If available, use the tiny delicate French haricots verts (green beans) traditionally used for this salad, and look for nicoise olives in your grocer's condiment isle. These olives don't usually come pitted, so you'll need to press them on a cutting board with the blade of a large chef's knife, then remove the pits with your fingers. If this seems like too tedious a prospect, substitute pitted Kalamata olives, which are more readily available.
A tricolor rotini pasta would make this more festive, but you can certainly use a plain variety or even a whole-wheat version. Make this salad the morning of the party and serve it at room temperature for peak flavor. Garnish with the hard-boiled egg quarters just before serving.
• 1 pound rotini pasta, cooked, drained, and refreshed under cold running water
• A drizzle of olive oil
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh mint leaves
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
• 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
• 1 teaspoon brown mustard
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 8 ounces French haricots verts (green beans), trimmed and halved
• 1/2 medium-size orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced into 1-inch-long strips
• 1 small red onion, peeled and cut into thin circles
• 1/2 cup nicoise olives, pitted
• 1 pint cherry or pear-shaped tomatoes, halved
• 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1. Place the cooked, refreshed pasta in a large mixing bowl and drizzle a little olive oil over it. Toss to coat and set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the mint, lemon peel, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
3. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the green beans until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and submerge the beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Remove and drain well on paper towels. Add the green beans, sliced bell pepper, onion, olives, and tomatoes to the pasta bowl, pour on the dressing, and toss well to coat. Refrigerate, covered, if not serving immediately
4. Just before serving, bring the salad to room temperature, salt and pepper to taste, and transfer to a large bowl or platter. Place the egg quarters decoratively around the edge of the dish and serve.
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