This Is dedicated to Margaret who asked for this recipe and I told her it was here, but it wasn’t until now. Also to all the funny, clever, colorful, smart women who make me laugh when I need it the most, Shelly, Lisa, Tina, they keep me sane. Barely.
You might have heard me mention that I grew up in a matriarchal family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in the late 50’s and early 60’s. This was a very formative time in my life, from just born to seven years old. It has colored how I view the world my entire life. Women ran the world. They ran my small corner of the world as a child, therefore they ran the world. The men that were in the family were off sometimes for weeks or days at a time doing what they did, railroad jobs and businesses in larger towns. My Great Grandmother, Mimi, My Aunt Bonnie and her daughter Aunt Tina had, to my eyes, no discernible men in their lives. Rumor was, they had been around at one point but one or two of them weren’t worth keeping. My Great Grandfather who worked the railroad, building it not running it, had passed away when I was 2 or 3 so I barely remember him. These women got along quiet well all on their own. To my young mind, mostly the men were a footnote, that showed up occasionally to give out candy or sit you on their lap in your dress up clothes after Church and ask lots of questions when you’d rather be barefoot climbing trees.
Imagine my surprise at the dawning realization about the ways of the world. Imagine my indignation when I learned that my personal tormentor (my older brother) was the gender specified heir apparent that would have access to the keys to the kingdom. Not me. Him.
Yeah, Right. Not if I had anything to do with that particular outcome. I knew then who needed to be running things, the women, the ones who make it better on a daily basis, the ones that tend to be inclusive not exclusive. At the very least the women deserved an equal shot at running things, and little girls deserved a hope that someday they could. My new favorite song at the moment is “Put a Woman in Charge” by Keb Mo. Go give it a listen, it will change your paradigm or re-enforce it.
What does all this have to do with pasta salad? Well it’s Roy G Biv pasta salad, and if your high school science can be recalled, or if you happen to be a scuba diver you know those letters stand for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, the order in which color disappears as you go deeper under water. I feel like more than half of the population of this great nation has been living under water all these years. Its time to let the colors and the colorful women out into the light, so we can shine, shine, shine.
And then we can all sit down at a cheerful round table where everyone is equal and eat this wonderful color filled salad with a glass of sweet tea and talk about the bad old days that just seemed drained of color, almost white in a way.
Ingredient list, I am specific in terms of brand for some of this because it matters. I have been making some form of this salad for over 10 years. It has been honed so to speak for best taste and I’ve combined vegetables and cheese so it is a complete meal.
1 box Barilla COLLEZIONE CASARECCE (this is a sturdy pasta that holds up for days in the fridge with the dressing used)
1 or 2 bottles of VIGO marinated baby artichoke hearts sliced in half , reserve the liquid
1 to 2 bottles Panera brand Mediterranean Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
1 can Bushs Navy beans drained and rinsed and drained again
6 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese, you can shave your own but this helps
1 big bundle of fresh asparagus, trimmed ends cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
1 red bell pepper cut in 1/2″ squares
1/2 pound carrots cut into rounds about 1/4′ thick
about 4 oz. pitted Kalamata olives cut into a rough chop
Get a large heat proof bowl ready for the goodness. Because I hate washing large pot I do all the boiling in one pot. Put a really large pot of well salted water on to boil, we are going to blanch the veg.
once it is boiling drop in
sliced carrots for 2 minutes
then add the asparagus boil for 2 minutes
add red pepper, blanch an additional minute
use a large spider strainer and fish out all the veg well drained and put in large heat proof bowl, pour half a bottle of the Panera dressing and stir well.
Bring the large pot of water back to a hard boil, (yes it will look orange, that’s ok) drop in pasta, cook according to directions until a bit past al’dente.
While pasta is boiling, put drained navy beans, halved artichokes, and Kalamata olives in the bowl and stir well, add at least half the marinade that the artichokes came in, and stir. Because the veg are hot they will absorb the dressing well. as soon as the pasta is ready drain it well and dump it on top of everything else. While it is still steaming hot piled on top of everything else, add the dressing, I generally use a bottle and a half total, plus the half bottle of marinade from the artichokes. Stir gently together. let it cool down and last add the shaved Parmesan. you want it to stick but not melt.
Get you a big old plate and eat it up. After all you do need to taste test it.