When the weather turns warm, I love to eat outside as often as possible. By preparing a main dish salad you can accomplish both of these goals. Any cooking that needs to be done can be done well ahead of time. Prepare the salad, refrigerate it and then it’s ready when you are. Cooking on the grill is another good way to move things outdoors.
Local caterer Gail Clarke enjoys making main dish salads and pasta dishes and finds they are a fit for many occasions. From tennis match luncheons to bridal showers they are versatile, easy to plan around and always a hit. She says that the sauce is most important to making a dish that will be remembered...in a good way.
Below are two of Clarke’s favorite Thai pasta dishes, one a salad and the other a pasta topped with grilled chicken. Try one of these at your next summer gathering. For information about Clarke’s catering services go to www.deliciousdishes.net.
Thai Shrimp-and-Pasta Salad
- 2 ounces uncooked linguine
- ½ cup shredded carrot
- 8 ounces medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
- 1 cup thinly sliced Boston lettuce leaves
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 Tb chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 Tb fish sauce
- 2 Tb chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 Tb chopped green onions
- 2½ tsp sugar
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
Cook pasta in boiling water 8 minutes.
Add carrot and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Drain, rinse with cold water and allow to cool.
Combine pasta mixture, shrimp, lettuce, cilantro leaves, and peanuts in a large bowl and toss well.
In a jar, combine lime juice and remaining ingredients.
Cover tightly, and shake vigorously.
Pour over pasta mixture, tossing gently to coat.
Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 2 cups)
Chicken Thai Pasta
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
- 4 boneless chicken breasts
- 8 ounces thin spaghetti
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup bean sprouts
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Combine first 7 ingredients in a 1½ quart saucepan and bring to a boil,
Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, stir with whisk until smooth.
Set aside and add ½ cup cilantro once cooled.
Grill chicken breasts until thoroughly cooked.
While chicken is grilling, boil pasta according to package directions adding carrots one minute before draining.
Drain pasta and carrots.
Divide pasta evenly into 4 dinner plates or pasta bowls.
Slice chicken into strips and top pasta with chicken.
Pour peanut sauce on top of chicken.
Top with bean sprouts, cheese and remaining cilantro.
Preparation time- 20 minutes
Cooking time- 25 minutes