Monday, September 19, 2011

One Great Tailgate Salad

The weather cools off, the Panthers heat up. And tailgate food starts to feel like something worth getting excited about.

I was flipping through Fine Cooking magazine's special issue on tailgate recipes while the Panthers were playing (early in the game, when it looked like it was going to be a much better season) when I noticed an interesting salad. It mixes snow peas, baby peas, green onions and a big pile of shiitake mushrooms with a little bit of pasta.

No, it's not a traditional mayonnaisey pasta salad. But maybe the Panthers will shake things up this year, too.

Sesame, Snow Pea and Shiitake Pasta Salad

From Fine Cooking magazine. Serves 8.

1/2 pound (8 ounces) dried rolled, tubular pasta, such as cavatelli or strozzapreti
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
40 fresh snow peas (4 to 5 ounces), trimmed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1/2 pound (about 3 cups) fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and place a colander in the sink. Add the pasta and cook until barely done, about 1 minute less than the time on the package. Add the green peas and cook 30 seconds. Add the snow peas, stir and immediately drain the vegetables and pasta in the colander. Rinse with cool water. Drain well, toss with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, shiitake slices, garlic, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are opaque and the mushrooms have released their juice, 3 to 4 minutes. (Don't let the vegetables brown.)

Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the vegetables and juices to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil with the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Combine the cooled pasta and vegetables, green onions and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (if using). Toss with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with remaining sesame seeds (if using).