Pasta salad with broccoli and parmesan
Keeping lunch light for summer.
With summer coming on, my family wants dishes that satisfy hunger, but feel light. A cold pasta salad is a good solution: easy to eat, flavorful and attractive. I like to make sure there’s a fresh vegetable in there, not only carbs. Luckily, we all love broccoli, cold or hot. A good amount of fresh broccoli, lightly steamed, soothes my nutrition consciousness and makes the folks happy.
The trick to keeping this dish light is to avoid creamy dressings. No mayonnaise, no sour cream, only good olive oil. Olive oil and lemon juice dress many Israeli salads, like the classic chopped Israeli salad. And why not, when Israeli olive oil is so fresh, and beautiful lemons grow so easily in our climate? The flavors of pungent, unctuous olive oil, combined with bright, tangy lemon juice, sing of the Mediterranean heat and colors.
Scallions and parmesan cheese add flavorful accents to the salad. A little powdered thyme grants a truly Mediterranean touch. And this is one of those recipes that leave you free to taste and adjust proportions to suit your own taste. I think that’s true of all salads, actually.
Here’s the basic recipe, the way I make it; easy and quick. A good main dish for four people, or a generous side dish for six. Tightly wrapped, it will keep well 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- 1 pound short-cut pasta of any shape
- 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon dried, ground thyme
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Set two pots of water to boil: one large one for the pasta, and one medium one for the broccoli. Add a little salt to each.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain. Run fresh, cool water over the pasta and drain again. Place cooled pasta in a large bowl.
Steam the broccoli florets until just tender, about 5 minutes. Test for tenderness (eat a floret) before draining. No need to rinse, just add the broccoli to the pasta.
In a separate bowl, whisk the parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice and thyme together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the pasta and broccoli, and gently mix with a wooden spoon.
Stir the scallions in. Taste a spoonful and adjust seasonings if desired. Refrigerate half an hour before serving.
Tips: You can make this salad more substantial with the addition of 2 cups cubed feta cheese. But don’t be tempted to add all kinds of other vegetables. The simple flavors of the dish are worth keeping as they are.
This salad goes particularly well with grilled or baked fish, and especially, Asian-flavored salmon skewers.