Sunday, July 8, 2007

Mexican Pasta Salad

It has been a busy 3 weeks, but I’m back now, no longer AWOL. Thanks for all of the messages asking where I was. At a Fourth of July barbeque I recently met someone (hi, Sherry!) who had read my blog because a mutual friend (hi, Karla!!) mentioned it. I’m still really surprised that anyone would bother reading my ramblings, let alone enjoy it! A really cool feeling, it is. Thanks, guys! :)

And at this Fourth of July gathering where I met Sherry, I brought a Mexican Pasta Salad as my contribution. Karla asked that I get it in writing, so here it is.

This was a really good pasta salad, whole wheat rotini and assorted veggies and black beans tossed with lime-chipotle vinaigrette. I’m going to prepare it with chicken next weekend for a light lunch. Perfect summer fare! Remember to adjust the ground chipotle according to your taste preferences.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Mexican Pasta Salad

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 10

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method


10 ounces whole wheat pasta -- rotini, penne, medium shells, etc.

2 large bell peppers -- colored preferred, cut into ½” pieces

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon powdered chipotle pepper -- (adjust to taste by starting out with 1/4 teaspoon,

I used a little less than 1/2 teaspoon)

2 large garlic clove -- crushed

3/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano -- crumbled (can sub regular Greek oregano)

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 medium carrots -- shredded

9 ounces cooked black beans -- (a 14 ounce can, drained)

Prepare these prior to serving:

4 whole green onions -- white and part of green tops; chopped

2 medium tomatoes -- 1/2" dice

2 large avocados -- pitted and peeled; chopped into 1/2" pieces and tossed with Fruit

Fresh to prevent darkening

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add bell pepper pieces and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. Bring the water back to a boil and add pasta. Do not overcook. Drain pasta, rinse, and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Cool slightly. Drain pepper pieces and blot dry with a towel; set both pasta and peppers aside.

Prepare dressing by whisking together the next 6 ingredients (olive oil through cumin). Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the bell peppers, carrots, and black beans. Add pasta and toss with dressing to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Just before serving, add green onions, tomatoes, and avocado cubes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, if desired.

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Per serving: 284 Calories (kcal); 14g Total Fat; 1g Saturated Fat (41% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 16mg Sodium; 7g fiber

Food Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 2 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

NOTES : Side-sized servings indicated.

Make this more of a main dish by adding crumbled queso fresco cheese or shredded cheddar, and shredded cooked chicken breast can also be added.

The hot weather has put a serious damper on my baking. Our house is not air-conditioned so I do a lot of grilling and microwaving in the summer but hardly any baking. Several weeks ago I tried waking at 5am to get some “necessary” baking done. On Saturday, I accomplished 2 loaves of 5-grain bread, a dozen sandwich rolls, and 24 blueberry muffins before I needed to shut off the oven. On Sunday (I slept in until 6 that day) I made 2 more loaves of 5-grain and a loaf of banana-blueberry bread. It wasn’t the best time to bake, I found. Instead of getting it all accomplished before the weather outside became too hot to have the oven going, this only succeeded in making the entire first floor uncomfortably warm for the rest of the day. Plus, I was half-asleep and was going at only half-speed anyway (despite numerous cups of strong coffee). I’m surprised, and impressed, that I remembered to add the yeast.

A couple of days ago I realized that our bread supply was again running low and looking at the weather forecast, all I saw were hot days ahead. I am definitely not a morning person, so I decided to try baking in the evening.

Yesterday gave me a perfect opportunity. It reached 88˚ and Jack helped me lay down mulch until he had to leave to play tennis with a friend later in the afternoon (nuts, yes, but I think that the main attraction for this were the beers afterward!). I finished with the mulching (amazingly, 22 bags just for one flower bed), did a partial-water change in the goldfish pond, then onto the dough. By 10:30 I had made 4 loaves of 5-grain and 2 of whole-wheat banana-chocolate chip bread, plus I mixed pizza dough and placed in the refrigerator to rise for dinner Sunday. I hate doing this but I left one of the kitchen windows open overnight, and by the next morning it was a cool 75˚ in there.

There was a price to be paid for this industriousness, though. After spending the day weeding, laying paper in the flower bed, hauling bags of mulch, dumping the mulch and spreading it; then trimming the water lilies in the pond (easier to do when the water level is low); then spending the evening on my feet baking and washing dishes, well, let’s just say that my back was not happy at all. It was a very restless night, even with the mega-ibuprofen which I took before going to bed. I had planned an easy day of staying inside, out of the 94˚ heat and doing easy things like catching up on correspondence and flipping through that ever-growing pile of magazines on the kitchen table, but my plans never seem to work out exactly as I hope. Laundry needed to be done, so there are 3 loads hanging on the line outside drying. I watered some of the flowers around the house that looked wilted. I bought 15 pounds of wild salmon the other day (it was on sale!), so that had to be all portioned and wrapped in foil and labeled. I still smell salmon on my hands, even after washing with lemon juice. But now the rest of the day is mine!!! I swear, I’m going to lie in that darn hammock today.

Other items of note since I’ve been “gone”:

Sam Adam’s Cherry Wheat beer is incredible! I’m not a huge beer fan, but this was different and delicious. Perfect for a hot summer day. Hmmm, enjoyed while lying in a hammock, perhaps?

There is a tiny hummingbird nest in the huge maple tree at the side of the house, and it’s just outside of a window. Mom Bird is either on her nest (which, according to a book I have, is comprised of soft vegetation and spider silk and contains 2 pea-sized eggs) or at the feeder. I have been giving her fresh nectar every 2-3 days. Last week I read in the newspaper that hummingbirds can become accustomed to people and, if they will allow you to, it’s possible to walk to the feeder while they are using it and place your extended finger under them as they sip. They will then actually use your finger as a perch! Our hummer is not as gregarious as those the author described. She sees us and flies quickly away. But maybe if we are persistent, we shall be rewarded.

Last weekend we went to an arts & heritage festival in a nearby town. It’s fairly huge and for once the weather was not hot and stifling or raining. We ambled through the booths (hundreds of them) but nothing really appealed to us-- except the food! The highlight was a stand operated by a berry farm. My favorite has always been the raspberry shortcake (homemade white cake split in half lengthwise, then a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, covered with fresh raspberry sauce, and then whipped cream). My summertime splurge! This year, though, Jack ordered the shortcake and I decided to try the chocolate fudge truffle cake with fresh raspberry sauce and whipped cream. It was rich and decadent and I practically cried when it was gone. This same stand also offers a wonderful-looking mixed berry pie (who is out in those fields picking all of these berries, I wonder?), but I don’t think that I can ever again order anything other than that truffle cake!

Look at this! Who doesn't want to just bury their face in either of these wonderful delights?!? I should have bought one to bring home... or the entire cake... I can't wait until next July!

Well, off to bed. No, the hammock wasn't used today (by the time I had the opportunity, it was in the sun). Tomorrow will be great fun-- a new deep-freeze is being delivered! Now that I have to wait another 51 weeks for that fudge truffle cake, I'll take my joy where I can find it... ;)


Randi said...

Hi Victoria,

C@H is the magazine that really has sparked my interest in cooking. I found your blog via C@H several weeks ago. I have completely enjoyed reading your posts...and the accompanying pictures. Thanks for taking the time to write about your culinary talents. I was pleased to see your latest entry.

Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

Thank you, Randi, for writing such a nice comment! Now I feel guilty for not posting more often... ;) I promise to do better in the future. Maybe tomorrow?!