Pasta's dual 'funzione'

Filling, easy and flavorful pasta dishes that work both as side and main.

Lemon Antipasto Salad (photo credit: Courtesy)
Lemon Antipasto Salad
(photo credit: Courtesy)
People are often looking to add to their repertoire of filling, easy and flavorful dishes that work as both sides and mains.  Here are three great pasta salads that are delicious served at room temperature or warm.  They are better if you make them a day ahead of time so that all the flavors can blend well and fully coat the pasta.
Lastly, they stay well for days so keep these on hand for last minute company or for your family to enjoy. 

Lemon Antipasto Salad
Serves 8 – 10
1 jar quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 pound bowtie pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 cup, pitted and sliced Kalamata black olives
4 sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
½ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toss all ingredients in a serving bowl and let rest, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad

Serves 8- 10
Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad (courtesy)Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad (courtesy)
This is an adapted recipe from Jamie Oliver.  This is a good room temperature pasta salad (it’s good warm too). My kids took the leftovers to school. The technique with cooking the garlic in the pasta water, gives the garlic a softer yet very flavorful addition to the salad.
11 ounces small shell pasta
3 garlic cloves
9 ounces yellow cherry tomatoes
9 ounces cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons fresh chives
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 medium cucumbers
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
7 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and garlic and simmer for about five minutes or until al dente, and drain. Put the garlic to one side for the dressing. Put the pasta in a bowl. Chop the tomatoes, olives, chives, basil and cucumber into pieces about half the size of the pasta and add to the bowl. Mash the garlic cloves. Add the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over the pasta.

Sesame Noodles
Serves 10
Sesame Noodles (courtesy)Sesame Noodles (courtesy)
I make this recipe often. For lots of reasons, first, it’s really good, second, it’s easy and can be made two days ahead of when you are serving it, and three, it’s one of the only pasta or sesame noodle recipes that holds up well.  I mean that most peanut dressings get sticky and clumpy when they are cooled.  This one has two types of oil in it that coats the noodles well enough that they stay saucy.  It can be made with any pasta you have on hand and is a great side dish to almost any meal. 
1 box pasta noodles of any kind, prepared according to package instructions
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce or other spicy sauce (you can use more or less to your desired taste)
3 scallions, sliced
3 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds, toasted, optional
In a small bowl, whisk garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and canola oil until fully incorporated.  While whisking, add the sesame oil and chili garlic sauce.  Pour dressing over prepared noodles.  It’s best to pour them over warm pasta because the warmth helps the noodles infuse with the dressing flavors.  Mix well until all the noodles are coated in dressing. Toss in the scallions and top with sesame seeds.  Set aside until ready to serve. 
These can be covered and kept in the refrigerator until ready to serve.