When groups gather with covered dishes at picnics, potlucks and barbecues, it's usually the side dishes that receive the most raves.
That's certainly the case with my friend Lynn Ziemba's warm pasta salad. Whether the main course is grilled chicken, steak or hamburgers, Lynn's warm combination of sauteed broccoli, carrots and mushrooms with tricolor pasta spirals sauced with white wine and dried herbs becomes the central attraction.
The vegetables are sauteed in olive oil with a healthy dose of crushed garlic. Once they're crisp-cooked, dried basil, parsley, oregano and red pepper flakes are stirred in and the pan is deglazed with white wine. The vegetables and sauce are poured over freshly cooked pasta and are given a quick toss with grated Parmesan cheese.
Preparation time on Lynn's pasta can be reduced by using prepared vegetables from the produce section of your supermarket. Washed and cut broccoli, shredded carrots and sliced mushrooms are all available. Crushed garlic in a jar keeps you from having to clean out the garlic press.
Italian seasonings can be substituted for the individual spices, saving money and room in your spice rack. Simply use 1´ teaspoons of dried Italian seasonings for the basil, parsley and oregano called for.
Lynn's original recipe called for called for 8 ounces of pasta, which is ä of a box. I increased the pasta to 12 ounces, to use a whole box, then added extra wine to the sauce and a tablespoon of white-wine vinegar to add some extra zing. The original also called for sliced onion, but I substitute chopped scallions because I prefer their mellower flavor.
The pasta makes a great side dish to any grilled entree and can be served hot, warm or cold. You can make it a main dish by adding a cup or two of cooked, peeled shrimp or sliced, grilled chicken breasts to the mixture before serving.
12 ounces tricolor spiral pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup butter or margarine, divided
3 green onions, chopped
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 large peeled carrots)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta spirals and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan.
Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add green onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are golden brown. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pan. When melted, stir in crushed garlic, broccoli and carrots. Saute 2 minutes, then add the basil, parsley, oregano and red-pepper flakes. Saute 1 minute, then deglaze pan with the white wine or chicken broth and white wine vinegar. Cover and simmer 3 minutes.
Pour the vegetables and sauce over the pasta in the pan. Toss with the Parmesan and serve warm.
Makes 6 servings.
Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, Ga. 30913. Or send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.