Salad for dinner is rare at my house. It’s mostly because I’ve just never really *loved* lettuce. There were a few years during my childhood when I would force down a few leaves with Dorothy Lynch dressing (and *only* Dorothy Lynch dressing!). From about ages 10 through 20, I’m not sure lettuce touched my lips. I had a bit of a vegetable “renaissance” halfway through college and expanded my palate considerably; salad then became “acceptable” but never a favorite. These days, we have salad as a side occasionally but never as a main dish. I decided to give it a shot earlier this week with the Mediterranean Salad with Artichokes, Penne, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe from the January/February 2008 issue of Everyday Food. I love Mediterranean ingredients and this kind of reminded me of the Med Salad at Noodles, so it seemed like a tasty choice.
This recipe was really quick and easy. I started by cooking 1 cup of penne pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, I rinsed a head of romaine and tore it into bite-sized pieces; I ran it through my Salad Spinner a few times to make sure all the grit was gone. During the last minute of the pasta cooking time, I added 1/4 cup of thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed) to the pot to soften them. After the minute had passed, I drained the pasta and tomatoes, rinsed them in cold water, and drained them again before transferring them to a large bowl.
Next, I made the dressing in a separate large bowl. I whisked together 2 tablespoons of red-wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon of water and then seasoned the dressing with salt and pepper. I added the pasta and tomatoes, romaine, 1 can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can of water-packed artichoke hearts (drained and quartered), and 4 ounces of feta. I tossed everything until it was well-combined.
I think the salad might have more visual appeal if you just sprinkle the feta on top instead of tossing it with the rest of the salad; I’ll try this next time. If there is a next time, that is. This salad was tasty, truly – the combination of ingredients is really terrific. You should have seen the look on poor Dr. O’s face, though, when he found out we were having *salad* for dinner. It just doesn’t qualify as a meal in his book. He ate it with a smile on his face, but he’s just used to something more substantial.
I will say, though, that we were both definitely satiated after this meal. I came home from mosaic class 4 hours later and I still wasn’t hungry. Lots of protein and fiber will do that. 🙂
TIPS: Using “flavored” feta cheese would make this salad even more delicious, I think. I’ve seen varieties like garlic & herb and tomato & basil at the grocery store. Also, use the biggest bowl you have to toss this salad together! I used a huge mixing bowl, but I struggled to keep all my ingredients inside. I expected my lettuce to lose volume once the dressing was incorporated, but there wasn’t much of a change.
p.s. We’re headed for Texas wine country this weekend, so I won’t post again until Tuesday. Look for a pancake request and my three-course Valentine meal next week!