Pasta Salad Niçoise

pasta salad Nicoise

Here's a great dish that does double duty: it can be dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. It's delicious served slightly warm or chilled. And it's especially great for a Friday night Lenten dinner. Using readily available ingredients including my favorite cans of tuna, this dish is light on the wallet too. For the best taste and texture use white albacore tuna packed in oil. It's much better than the chunk light in water.

My version of the French salad Niçoise is crossed with the American macaroni salad. Instead of boiled potatoes, I use pasta as a delicious alternative. Cavatappi, a corkscrew-shaped pasta, makes a playful addition, but elbow macaroni works well too. Green beans are quickly blanched and pasta is then cooked in the same pot before being combined with all the ingredients. A finish of briny olives and capers and a fresh vinaigrette make it feel like springtime on the Mediterranean coast.

Pasta Salad Niçoise

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
12 ounces cavatappi
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 6-ounce cans solid white tuna in olive oil, drained
1 red bell pepper, trimmed and cut into 1-inch slivers
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Make garlic oil by heating 2 tablespoons oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Let cool.

To a pot of rapidly boiling, liberally salted water, add green beans. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and rinse with cold water. Drain.

Cook pasta in the same pot until al dente, a few minutes short of package directions. Drain.

In a large bowl make vinaigrette by combining garlic oil, 4 tablespoons oil, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, vinegar, salt, and pepper; whisk well. Add pasta, beans, bell pepper, tuna, olives, and capers. Toss gently to coat all ingredients with vinaigrette. Yield: 6 servings.