Funny how time moves fast and slow. Seen one way, this winter has been one of the longest in memory. Even though New Yorkers really can’t complain compared to the Arctic freeze Midwesterners have endured since January, it hasn’t exactly been a walk in Central Park here, either. The smattering of blue-skied, jean-jacket days that have graced NYC over the past couple of weeks have been embraced as nothing short of miracles. Seen another way, however, the fact that a quarter of 2014 has already slipped away is downright dizzying. I almost suspect that, come next week, the joke will be: “April’s Fools! It’s still only February.”
But whether we understand it or not, time sure as heck is barreling forward, so we might as well adjust our eating habits to match. Gone are the days of chili and stew; here are the days of picnic food. Picnic food: that happy category of salads and sides that are easily Tupperware’d, best served at room temp and out of doors, and preferably accompanied by a glass of something cold. The king of this category, of course, is the venerated pasta salad.
The beauty of this salad is its simplicity. Thanks to the addition of the oil from the jarred artichoke hearts, there’s no need to add extra dressing, keeping the number of ingredients down to a very manageable seven. Feel free to add in whatever else catches your fancy (some cucumber? broccoli? a pine nut or two?) but this salad truly satisfies as is.
mediterranean pasta salad
Adapted from Fresh Tastes
1 cup dry whole wheat pasta (I used penne)
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 6-ounce jar quartered artichoke hearts
½ cup olives, halved and pitted
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & pepper
½ cup feta
Cook pasta until al dente (9-10 minutes) and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, tomatoes, artichoke hearts (with oil from the jar), olives, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Add pasta and toss once more. Mix in a generous helping of crumbled feta and eat immediately!
This pasta salad is saucy and flavorful while still feeling light and bright. For me, it’s a near flawless combination of some of my very favorite ingredients (hello olives, artichokes, feta…), and thanks to the chickpeas and whole wheat pasta, it packs some nutrients, too. This is the type of salad that takes you fifteen minutes to make on a Sunday afternoon and that you enjoy for lunch again and again throughout your busy week.
And so on that note, have a fantastic (pasta salad-filled) week!