Saturday, 19 May 2012

Feta, Spinach and Zucchini Pasta Salad

I really love vegetables. Really, really love them. The colors, the freshness, the crunch, the flavors. Carbs and meat seem to fall on the same beige-to-brown spectrum. As mouth-watering as a juicy (brown) steak might be, a dash of veggie color and crunch really livens up a meal. Plus, that old health thing...

Well, my fridge is stocked to bursting with leafy green and other crunchy colors (I might have gone a bit bonkers in the produce aisle) so today's lunch was a well-vegetated pasta salad.

Garlic is another one of those beautiful little things that elevate the process of eating from quite nice to spectacular. So tiny and innocuous, with just a couple minutes in the frying pan it's sending off mouth-watering aromas, ready to latch onto whatever else you plan on throwing into the pan.

I know some people are bothered by the garlicky smell that stays on your hands after you've chopped it up (and on your breath after eating it!) but I don't mind if my hands smell like garlic. It's such an evocative kitchen-y kind of scent that immediately makes me think of olive oil and frying pans. Garlic is the gold to my frankincense and myrrh (and these are the other two right down here: feta and sun-dried tomatoes, honestly where would the Mediterranean be without them?)

 I find the way these flavors blend together to be almost therapeutic. They're so perfect, so balanced, and they make you savor every single mouthful.

 And continuing on the theme of my obsessive love for vegetables: don't you love how vibrantly green broccoli turns as it cooks? You think it looks all fresh and bright when you first pick up a head of it and then, when you cook it, this amazing deep color is released. It's as if the vegetable is hiding the really big finale for right before you put it in your mouth. Bravo, broccoli, encore!

I always pile in spinach by the handful, and every time I'm shocked and a tiny bit delighted by how much it reduces. The green edges of thinly sliced zucchini curl in the heat of the frying pan and the spinach softens and turns a deeper, darker green. Mm, perfection!

Adding the feta and the pasta brightens everything up. Incidentally, turning the dish into the Italian Flag. Awesome.

To be honest, as much as I blabber about savoring every mouthful, I was pretty hungry and this fella didn't last very long. Just long enough for me to snap a few pictures and then, all gobbled up!

This is a fairly basic, throwing-stuff-in-the-frying-pan deal, but I'll include a recipe anyway. Just because.

Vegetable and Feta Pasta Salad

a handful of pasta
1/2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
a handful of chopped broccoli
3 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a couple of large handfuls of spinach
a chunk of feta (as much or as little as you want!)
olive oil
black pepper for seasoning

Put the pasta on to cook in lightly salted water.
Saute the sliced zucchini and broccoli in a large frying pan until tender. Season with pepper to taste. When the veggies are almost done, add the minced garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. When the pasta is just about finished, add the spinach, moving all the veggies around regularly until the heat has reduced the spinach. Remove from the heat. Now drain the pasta and stir it in. Add crumbled feta and serve while hot!

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