Rotini with Parsley Pesto

Rotini with Parsley Pesto and Corn Meal Fried Catfish

I will be making lots of pasta salads for Sunday dinners this summer for two reasons. One, as my friend Beverly quotes, "its hot enough out here to knock up a mule!" and the last thing my church family wants to eat is anything hot.

And two, Point Pleasant (where we meet for Sunday evening services for three months during summer) has a kitchen big enough for three people to squeeze in and two ovens which are just right for warming up corn dogs. Believe me, I am grateful to have a kitchen, but it is not quite equipped to prepare food for 250 people. All food must be prepared in downtown kitchen and transported to Point Pleasant each Sunday afternoon.

Under these not-so-ideal conditions, cold pasta salads are wonderful tasty options to feed a large crowd.

Let's talk about pasta a little. As you know there are hundreds of shapes and sizes. The most popular ones are macaroni and spaghetti. Pasta means "paste" in Italian, which refers to dough made with durum wheat flour, called Semolina, combined with water or milk. Sometimes eggs are added, but generally when only eggs and flour are added, it is called "noodles".

Click Here if you want to check out the shapes and names of pasta.

Pasta comes in fresh or dried forms and we will just talk about the dried pasta for now. Imported dried pasta has a bit of firmer texture when cooked because it is usually made only with Semolina, which does not absorb as much water as the American made ones. I use Ronzoni Brand, for most of my pasta salads. It seems to have a good blend of Semolina and cooks quite well.

Have you ever had starchy pasta water boil over the pot? Been there, done that! The reason is too small of a pot and water for the amount of pasta you are cooking. You need about a gallon of boiling water for about a pound of pasta. Bring water to rolling boil, add 1 to 2 teaspoon of salt per gallon of water.

When you serve pasta hot, you will want to cook it al dente (firm to the bite) , but for cold pasta salads, cook it a little longer so you won't have any resistance when biting but not mushy. Make a habit of reserving some pasta water to thin out the sauce or pesto.

Beet juice, spinach, carrots, quinoa, carrots, and even cuttlefish ink is used to color the pasta. These beautiful pasta can be purchased at Brighter Day in downtown Savannah or any local natural food stores. My children love these colorful pasta tossed simply with butter, salt and pepper.

Linguini with Asian flavor (click for recipe)

Farfalle with Lemon-Basil pesto

Orzo with Vegetables (click for recipe)

Here is a simple parsley pesto for hot or cold pasta. Of course you can use fresh basil, cilantro, or combination of these herbs, too!

Add colorful veggies of your choice.

Cold pasta salads are actually better when served room temperature rather than straight out of a refrigerator. Your taste buds will detect flavors better!

Parsley Pesto
(serves 4)

4 cup Italian Parsley, leaves only
2 Tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 cups Pine Nuts, toasted and cooled
3 Garlic clove, finely grated with Mircroplane
3 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup Olive Oil, plus 2 Tablespoon of oil for tossing
1 tsp. Sea Salt or to taste
Fresh ground pepper

PureƩ parsley, nuts, parmesan, garlic,lemon juice, and oil in a food processor until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Serve with hot or cold pasta.

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