“The Fiery Italian” Pasta Salad in a Spicy, Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette, with Shaved Parmesan, Dry Salami, Grilled Chicken, Artichoke Hearts and Toasted Pine Nuts
(Makes 1 lunch portion)
1 cup cooked and cooled bow-tie pasta, drizzled lightly with oil to prevent sticking 2 chicken tenderloins, cooked and sliced into small strips 4 slices of Italian dry salami, sliced into strips ¼ cup artichoke hearts, chopped (frozen and thawed) 1-2 tablespoons kalamata olives (pitted), sliced 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts 1 tablespoon julienned fresh basil leaves 2 tablespoons shaved parmesan cheese • Spicy, Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below)
-To assemble and store the pasta salad, toss all ingredients through the julienned basil leaves together in a bowl; add the ingredients into a tupperware or glass container with a snap-top, and keep in fridge until ready to eat; keep the Spicy, Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette separate in another small container in the fridge, and toss as much of it as you desire with the pasta salad once you’re ready to eat.
Spicy, Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette ingredients:
• Drizzle olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons, divided use ½ cup tiny, sugar plum tomatoes, halved 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press • Pinch or two salt • Pinch or two cracked black pepper ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on how spicy you like things) 1 tablespoon julienned fresh basil leaves ½ teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
-Place a small, non-stick pan over medium-low heat, and add a drizzle of olive oil in; once hot, add in the halved sugar plum tomatoes, the garlic, pinches of salt and pepper, the Italian seasoning and the red pepper flakes; gently saute the tomatoes just until they begin to break down an soften, for about 2 minutes.
-Add the sauteed tomatoes directly into the bowl of a food processor, and add in the remainder of the ingredients (don’t forget to add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil); pulse a few times, then process for a moment just until well blended and fairly smooth; check the salt/pepper level to see if you need to add more, then transfer to a small, snap-top container, and keep in fridge with pasta salad until ready to use. (*If the vinaigrette becomes a bit thick from being in the fridge, just run the container under hot water to warm it up, and shake well before using.)