A pasta salad with a bold, sun-dried tomato vinaigrette and lots of healthy ingredients, Pasta Salad With Kale, Garbanzos, and Bleu Cheese makes a great light lunch or supper, and is ready in a flash!
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
~~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Nine months into my blogging “journey,” I am doing some soul-searching. I spent weeks screaming at my computer, fighting technology, and wondering what might have possessed me to pursue my passion for food and writing. Eventually, I felt comfortable with the WordPress platform and the “preview” look of my post, and nervously hit “publish” for the first time. I am still working on understanding and utilizing social media, and you’ve probably noticed my photography skills need work. 🙂 Yet, I persevere…
I stumbled upon a beautifully written blog that reminded me why I began writing almost a year ago – Eat This Poem, written by Nicole Gulotta. Specifically, in a post dated January 1, 2013, titled 10 Tips For Blogging With Soul, one tip leapt off the page: “6. If you’re still unsure what to write about, it all starts with passion. What do you care about most? Reconnecting with your family history through food? Navigating how to eat while traveling the world? Encouraging mothers to cook from scratch for their kids? Cooking to fuel exercise? Be specific! Don’t feel like a niche will be limiting. Your niche is the lens through which you see the world, and everything else important in life—family, work, faith, travel, hope, love, etc.—will be reflected through your unique perspective.”
I love food and what food brings to my life and the lives of those I love! I love literature, creativity, adventure, faith, fitness, good wine, and writing. I find these passions intersecting and growing as I learn the world that is the “blogosphere.” In her post, Nicole embraces the words of one of the most passionate chefs of the past century, Julia Child: “Find something you’re passionate about, and keep tremendously interested in it.” So, once again, I am reminded why I embarked upon this blogging journey.
Cooking is my “port in the storm.” My husband pours me a glass of wine, I gather my ingredients, and I relax. When I came up with the idea for this salad, I remembered the Insalata Di Lusso – a favorite on the menu of a local Italian Restaurant. Insalata Di Lusso translates to “salad of luxury.” The restaurant is no longer in business, but it was a lovely salad of crispy romaine with toasted pecans, sun-dried tomatoes, currants, and bleu cheese, with a tangy, acidic dressing. I rarely follow recipes, but rely on “flavor profiles.” I know these ingredients taste great together. I wanted to create more of a main dish salad, and what could be more Italian than pasta. I decided to combine the salad ingredients from the Insalata Di Lusso with pasta, kale, and garbanzos. I dressed the salad with a sun-dried tomato and sherry vinaigrette. The flavors are not subtle, but if you like bold, healthy summer salads, you might want to give this one a try!
Note: If you are reluctant to serve a vegetarian main dish, this salad pairs beautifully with a balsamic and fresh thyme glaze brushed on chicken cooked on the grill. My husband and I work out 5 days a week, and watch our macro nutrients pretty closely. We eat protein throughout the day, and I don’t always feel the need to serve this salad with chicken or fish. However, protein requirements for physically active adults vary. For more information, see this article on Livestrong. (One of my favorite resources.)
Pasta Salad With Kale, Garbanzos, & Bleu Cheese
- 2 bell peppers red, yellow, and/or orange, blackened
- 4 tablespoons pecans coarsely chopped and toasted
- 2 cups cooked garbanzos canned are fine too
- 1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbled
- 2 tablespoons currants
- 8 ounces Barilla Protein Plus Pasta
- 8 cups baby kale mix
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes not oil packed, but soft
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper
- Using a bullet processor or blender, combine dressing ingredients. Pulse until smooth. It should be creamy, but not thick enough to require a spoon to remove from the container. Add water a little at a time to achieve the right consistency. Be careful adding olive oil as it packs lots of calories! If you like acidic dressings, you can thin with vinegar. The size and brand/type of tomatoes will affect the consistency of your dressing. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
- Set aside while you make the salad.
- Roast/blacken your bell peppers (See the post for additional information.) Remove blackened skin, stem, seeds, and ribs. Slice in half and then in 1/4" strips. Set aside.
- Toast pecans in a dry pan until fragrant. Don't let them burn!
- Cook the pasta according to directions on the package. Just before draining, add the baby kale. Quickly drain, rinse with cold water (to stop the cooking), and add to a large salad bowl.
- Add prepared peppers, currants, and garbanzos. Add dressing. Stir to combine dressing evenly.
- Fold in the crumbled bleu cheese.
- Garnish with toasted pecans.
Feel free to substitute good quality commercially available roasted peppers.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal.com): 484 calories; 21 g protein; 66 g carbohydrates; 18 g fat. Your results may vary.
- If you’re not comfortable roasting your bell peppers, or if you are short on time, you can substitute commercially prepared roasted bell peppers. Cut in strips or bite-sized pieces.
- Roasting your own peppers provides a much nicer texture because they are not packed in water. My preferred method is to roast them over the flame on a gas cooktop:
- If you don’t have a gas cooktop, you can do this under the broiler or on a gas grill. However, you have to blacken the skin quickly, or the pepper will be cooked rather than crisp-tender. Under or over high heat, place the peppers close to the flame, turning as they blacken, until most of the flesh is blackened. Watch closely!
- I specified Barilla Protein Plus pasta because it boosts the protein in the dish. You can substitute your favorite pasta if you wish.
- If you have an aversion to bleu cheese (two of my four sons call it “stinky feet cheese”), try the salad with feta.
- If you decide to substitute fully grown kale rather than baby kale, keep in mind that it will have a stronger flavor and tougher leaves. Shred the kale and blanch it for a couple of minutes prior to tossing with the pasta.
- If your currants resemble little pebbles, cover with boiling water for a few minutes, then drain before adding to the salad.
- Good organization makes cooking more enjoyable, and gets the food on the table more quickly. Assembling ingredients in prep bowls is an efficient way to bring this together.