So, yeh, fergettabout the mayonnaise for this salad; and, while we’re at it, let’s fergettabout the gluten, too, because we’re making this salad with chickpea pasta!
Penne chickpea pasta, blanched asparagus, grape tomatoes, chopped marinated artichoke hearts, onion, Feta cheese, and assorted Italian style deli meats – I used coarsely chopped, uncured salami and sopressata – and it was tasty!
But first, let’s talk about the pasta…
We’ve been using Banza brand and have been loving it for the most part, though friends swear by the chickpea and lentil pasta. Every store in my area is different; some carry the gluten free pastas in with the regular and “carb smart” pastas, some carry them in their “organic” section, and some have dedicated “gluten free” aisles.
Chickpea pasta is not quite as absorbent as regular pasta, so, it will not soak up as much of the dressing (and flavor), but it’ll still get the job done.
Another thing about the chickpea pasta is that, on the back, with the cooking instructions, it says to “expect foam.”
No sh… ermmm, shucks, Sherlock!
But – after using my tall stock pot to cook the pasta, and battling the foam by near constant stirring; I’ve discovered that cooking it in a lower, wider Dutch oven style pot yields much less foam, so, cool!
•1 pkg penne pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed according to package instructions
•Assorted Italian cold cuts, sliced into thin strips
•Sliced Peperoncini, drained well
•1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
•Grape tomatoes, quartered
•Blanched sliced asparagus*
•Thinly sliced onion
•Basil, fresh chopped or from that tube in the produce section of the market
•Crumbled Feta cheese
A note on the feta cheese. I am loving this Wisconsin chunk style packed in brine, it is so much more flavorful, and a bit smoother, even creamier, than the same brand’s dry packed crumbled Feta, so, check it out; I think you will be pleased.
A note on the Italian dressing. I use this powdered mix from a local company that, as the package front states, really contains no funky ingredients. I can only find them at one store around here, but you can order online, here.
Place the prepped meat and veggies in a large bowl and toss with the basil and Feta cheese. As you will note in a minute or so, I forgot one of Julia Child’s main rules: “always start with a bowl bigger than you think you will need.”
Sooo… after transfering all that to a bowl large enough to handle the meats and veggies and cheese, and the pasta; pour the prepared Italian dressing over all and toss well to coat evenly.
Cover and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours, or, even better, overnight, to allow the flavors to blend and the pasta to soak up some of the dressing.
Serve at cool room temperature.
*Wondering about how to blanch asparagus? It’s simple! Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then stir in one tablespoon each sugar and salt. For this batch, I used a smoked bacon and onion sea salt from dashndrizzle.com.
Add your trimmed asparagus to the boiling water and cook for two or three minutes, until bright green.
Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water and push the spears about a bit to ensure they are all cooled quickly. This shock will help to lock in the bright green color.
Drain the asparagus well on a towel.
How easy was that?
Oh, and many thanks to Alex Guarnaschelli for posting the blanched asparagus method on the Food Network web site.
When in doubt, you just gotta go to da Google.