Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gluten-Free Greek Pasta Salad

Some like it Hot

It is hot.  Sultry.  Steamy.  Boiling.  Sweltering.  Muggy.  Scalding.  Hot and humid.

Not roasting.  Not searing.  Not scorching.  Not broiling.  Not baking.  All of those denote dry heat to me.  This is anything but dry heat.

The day before yesterday was hot.  Yesterday was expected to be 102 degrees, with a heat index of 115 degrees.  That requires humidity.  I could do without the humidity.  Or the heat for that matter.

We saw the forecast.  We knew this was coming.  Nothing can properly prepare you for this.

Except maybe ensuring that your air conditioning is functioning at peak performance.

I Do Not Like it Hot

None of us much like the heat, and none of us were eager to be outside for any reason.  But we had to get the boy to swimming lessons.  Swimming lessons at an outdoor pool.  Outdoor in the 102 degree heat.  102 degree heat with a 115 degree heat index.

But we had a plan.  We wanted to make a packable dinner and take it with us to the pool.  The pool is open for general swimming after the lessons are done.  Since our boy had his lesson in the first session, we were forced to wait through the second session of lessons before we could cool off.  He, of course, had already gotten a half hour in the water, but the rest of us were sweating it out in the shade of the umbrella.

So, we ate.  We needed a packable, easy-to-eat-at-the-pool-where-you-might-not-be-lucky-enough-to-get-a-table dinner.  Chairs aren't exactly plentiful either.  But there are a lot of chaise lounges.  They just aren't that convenient for eating dinner.  But I digress.

I've found it much easier when packing a dinner to serve our individual servings into separate containers.  Each of us gets our own container from the beginning.  That eases and quickens the distribution of food when we get to where we want to eat.  I just dole out the containers and eating utensils and we are ready to dig in.  No shuffling of large serving containers or balancing of plates and utensils and serving bowl; no extra large, partly empty containers to pack out; no hassle.  This also means that we can tailor the contents ahead of time to each person's liking, avoiding all manner of "discussion" later.

Whatever we chose, I didn't want something that had to be eaten hot.  No way.  Cold.  Or cool, preferably.  Salad or sandwich.  BLTs are pretty popular around here, but that didn't seem like it was going to hit the spot this time.  Green salad?  Didn't sound substantial enough for holding us through a extended evening of swimming.  But maybe some kind of salad....

For this poolside dinner it was to be Gluten-Free Greek Pasta Salad and fresh watermelon.

Gluten-Free Greek Pasta Salad

I've made this Gluten-Free Greek Pasta Salad before, but only for potlucks.  It has always been very well received by gluten and gluten-free eaters alike. Now, I was making it just for us, and it was now our main course.

On the upside, it was going to be served cool (or nearly so by the time we got to the pool and waited for the first round of swimming lessons to end) and is very easy to prepare.

On the downside, I had to boil a large pot of water on the stove to cook the gluten-free pasta.  Boiling.  Hot.  Inside the house.  Boiling.  Hot.  Outside too. Well, at least it went quickly and I didn't have to stand over the stove the whole time.  Here I chose fusilli, but any short, thick shape will do. And when the pasta was done, I wasted no time in rinsing it all with cool water.

Away heat, away!

For the fresh vegetables, I cut up one seedless cucumber, one red bell pepper, one broccoli crown, and one vine-ripened tomato.

Then I quartered kalamata olives the long way.

Then I added about three-quarters of a cup of crumbled feta cheese.

The dressing is made from one fresh-squeezed lemon, a half cup of safflower oil (or your favorite salad oil), several minced cloves of garlic, a quarter cup of fresh chopped oregano, salt and pepper.

Then toss it all together.  Vegetables, olives, cheese, dressing, gluten-free pasta.  Stir gently, but completely.  Chill.

I think the flavors are at their best when they have had a chance to meld for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.  Stir again before serving.

And this was our main course for our poolside dinner.  Simple, cool, and delicious!


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