Insalata di pasta ai tonno

Delicious, portable, healthy – pasta salads are perfect dishes for versatility, because they are easily portable and can be served in a myriad of ways. The ingredients used vary widely by region, season, and/or preference of the cook. Pasta salads can be very simple, or as elaborate as several short pastas tossed together with a variety of fresh, preserved or cooked ingredients. These can include vegetables, legumes, cheeses, nuts, herbs, spices, meats, poultry, or seafood. Even though pasta salad is often regarded as a spring or summertime meal, it can be easily served year-round. Here, penne pasta is combined with fresh tasty tomatoes, tuna, anchovies, and hard-boiled eggs. By avoiding fattening and calorie rich dressings, you can enjoy the true taste of the ingredients with a touch of raw olive oil.

Insalata di pasta con tonno

Ingredients: 

100 grams/ 3.5 oz penne rigate or penne pasta

100 grams/ 3.5  oz green beans

280 grams/ 10 oz tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

2 tins of Rio Mare tuna

2 hard-boiled eggs

8 anchovies fillets

a handful of capers

back olives (optional)

olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool down.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise.

Cook the trimmed green beans in salted boiling water for ca. 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

On a large platter, arrange the tomatoes side by side. Mix the cooked pasta together with the drained tuna and shredded basil leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Put the pasta mix in the middle of the platter, and add the green beans and anchovies fillets. Set the halved eggs right in the middle of the salad. Drizzle some olive oil and season with black pepper. Garnish with capers and basil leaves. Serve as a lunch or dinner.

Insalata di pasta ai tonno

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Panzanella

Panzanella – a salad with bread and tomatoes – is a very popular rustic summer dish in Italy, especially in Tuscany and other parts of central Italy. It doesn’t require any cooking and is therefore ideal for hot and humid summer days. Originally, it was a dish for peasants who worked on the fields all day. The basic ingredients are soaked stale bread, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil, salt and pepper, vinegar and oil. More modern interpretations might include lettuce, mozzarella, anchovies, celery, carrots, or tuna, but don’t offer these variations to the puritans who will most certainly disapprove! The first written reference to panzanella was already made in the 16th century when poet and artist Bronzino wrote about the incredulous taste of toast with onions, oil and vinegar. Tomatoes were only added to this recipe in the 20th century.

Panzanella

Ingredients:

300 gr/ 10 oz stale Italian bread

1-2 red onions, thinly sliced

4-6 tomatoes, in chunks

1 cucumber, in chunks

fresh basil leaves, shredded

2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Remove the crusts, and cut the bread into slices. Soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes. Once heavy with water, remove a little bread at a time and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Then break the slices apart into small, dry crumbs.

Place the bread crumbs in a salad bowl and add the red onion, tomato and cucumber chunks together with the shredded basil leaves. For the authentic feel, peel the cucumber first. Dress with a bit of oil, salt and pepper, and let the salad cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When it is time to serve, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and oil.

Panzanella

Strawberry Salad

Strawberry Salad

Strawberry, or garden strawberry, is a hybrid species first bred in France during the late 18th century via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis from Chile. Prior to that, this red, juicy and conically shaped fruit had been growing wild for centuries. The fruit, which botanically speaking is not a berry, is widely appreciated for its aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. Strawberries are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are a good source of folate and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and manganese. Choose brightly colored, plump berries that still have the caps attached to them and avoid soft or moldy berries. Strawberries can be combined with practically anything, from bananas and basil to lemon and lime. Here the sweet strawberries go well together with the creamy mozzarella and compliment the peppery and pungent taste of the rocket salad.

Ingredients: 

rocket salad, lollo rosso, Swiss chard etc.

1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

200 gr/ 7 oz shrimp

6-8 strawberries, halved

Dressing 1:

6 strawberries

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp honey

salt and black pepper to taste

Dressing 2:

olive oil

black pepper

Instructions: 

Arrange the rocket, lollo rosso and Swiss chard leaves on the plate. Put the raw and untreated shrimp in the middle. Arrange the mozzarella slices around the shrimp, and decorate with the halved strawberries.

Prepare the dressing by crushing the strawberries with a fork. Then, mix with all the other ingredients. Alternatively, just drizzle some good quality olive oil over the salad and season with freshly ground black pepper. This is an excellent recipe for this summer.

Strawberry Salad

Insalata di riso vegetariana

Insalata di riso vegetariana

Basmati rice has been growing in the foothills of the Himalayas for thousands of years. It is a long grain rice type with a firm texture popular not only for its nutty flavor, but for its fragrance. The aroma can be attributed to the fact that the grain is aged to decrease its moisture content. When cooked, the rice is lighter and fluffier than standard white rice, and does not stick together. It is available in both white and brown varieties. China is the world’s largest producer of rice, followed immediately by India. Historically, this expensive rice type and has been favored by emperors and praised by poets for hundreds of years. In this recipe the Basmati rice enhances the flavors it’s mixed with. For best results, take the time to treat the eggplant and the zucchini with coarse sea salt.

Ingredients: 

1 eggplant, sliced

1 zucchini, sliced

coarse sea salt

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

1 yellow bell pepper, in cubes

1 red bell pepper, in cubes

salt and black pepper to taste

250 gr/ 8 2/3 oz Basmati rice

fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Insalata di riso vegetariana

Instructions: 

Slice the eggplant and the zucchini and sprinkle coarse sea salt on them. Set them aside for 1 hour. Shake the sea salt off and slice the pieces into smaller cubes.

Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion softens. Add the other vegetables in cubes and continue frying for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set a couple of tablespoonfuls of vegetables aside for later.

Meanwhile, cook the Basmati rice in a pot filled with salted boiling water for about 12 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Mix the vegetables with the rice when they are cool. Present the dish by creating rice towers or other formations. Garnish each plate with the vegetables you set aside. Sprinkle some finely chopped flat leaf parsley on top.

Insalata di pasta

Insalata di pasta

Balsamic vinegar – or aceto balsamico – comes from the Latin word balsamum, meaning restorative or curative.  Genuine balsamic vinegar is an artisan product from Modena in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region. It is made from a reduction of cooked grape juice which is allowed to ferment and then, for a minimum of 12 years, matured in barrels. The result is dark, rich and syrupy condiment that is used very sparingly. For the real deal, always look for the marking ‘tradizionale’ or DOC, and these products tend to be very expensive. You can also buy the more affordable, industrially made ‘aceto balsamico di Modena’, which isn’t aged for so long. Very cheap balsamic vinegars have been colored and flavored with caramel, and don’t have the authentic intensity of flavor. Together with oil, balsamic vinegar is an excellent dressing, but you can also drizzle some over roasted chicken and duck, or tuna steaks.

Ingredients: 

penne rigate pasta

3-5 tomatoes, sliced

1/2 cucumber, sliced

200 gr/7 oz mozzarella, in cubes

a bunch of fresh basil leaves

1 can of tuna fish (in water)

6-8 anchovies

Dressing: 

5 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 

Cook the penne rigate, or some other pasta of your choice, al dente in a pot filled with salted boiling water. Drain, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, slice all the vegetables and the mozzarella. Mix the already cooled down pasta with the vegetables, mozzarella, fresh basil, the drained tuna and the anchovies. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and drizzle some over each plate.

Insalata di pasta

Refreshing salad with gravad lax

Refreshing salad with gravad lax

Refreshing and easy to prepare, this salad is an excellent option for lunch. If you want to prepare your own gravad lax – and subsequently cut the costs – you will find my recipe here. If you are feeling less adventurous you can also use store-bought salmon for equally good results. Bear in mind that curing salmon takes about 2 to 3 days.

Salmon has high omega-3 fatty acids and a lot of protein, but smoking, salting and curing makes salmon lose about 1/3 to 2/3 of its original omega-3 content. But some Atlantic and farmed salmon are raised on special omega-3 feed, and therefore make up for the loss of nutrients.

Ingredients: 

4 tomatoes

0.5 cucumber

200 gr green beans

Iceberg lettuce

4 boiled potatoes

300 gr gravad lax

3 hard-boiled eggs

Olive oil

Instructions:

Boil the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Trim and cut the green beans and boil them in salted water for about 10-15 minutes. Slice the tomatoes and the cucumber. Shred the iceberg lettuce leaves and cut the gravad lax into 1 inch/2.54 cm cubes. Boil the eggs for about 10-12 minutes and cut them into four pieces. Combine all the ingredients and avoid excessive mixing. Drizzle some olive oil over the salad and serve.

Refreshing salad with gravad lax

Cajun chicken salad

Whether you are shedding some extra pounds after Thanksgiving or just too busy planning your Christmas, this is a recipe for you. Easy to prepare but yet delicious, this Cajun chicken salad is a wonderful lunch option. The marinade can be used for other meats and dishes, too.

Ingredients:

Cajun marinade:

Cajun chicken salad4 tsp salt

4 tsp paprika powder

3 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2.5 tsp onion powder

1.5 tsp cayenne pepper

1.5 tsp thyme

1.5 tsp oregano

oil

Chicken salad:

Cajun chicken saladoil for frying

400 gr Cajun marinated chicken, in 1 inch/2.54 cm cubes

75 gr rocket salad, Swiss chard, lollo rosso

250 gr cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cucumber, in slices

200 gr mozzarella, in cubes

pine nuts

Instructions:

Cajun chicken saladMarinade: Mix the spices in a bowl. Add a little bit of oil and the chicken cubes. Mix well and let the mixture marinade in the fridge for an hour.

Cajun chicken salad: Heat some oil in a pan and fry the chicken cubes on a medium heat until they are golden. Slice the cucumber and cut the cherry tomatoes in half and mix with rocket salad, Swiss chard and lollo rosso. Add the mozzarella and arrange the chicken cubes on top of the salad. Garnish with pine nuts. Serve with a freshly baked ciabatta or baguette.