Having lived in Chicago for (almost) a year and a half I’m now becoming attuned to the fact that our weather here exists largely in extremes. Either we’re wrestling with the most bone chilling of winters that dump foot after foot of snow on our unsuspecting cars or we’re melting on scalding 90+ degree summer days. I feel like I spend 75% of the year daydreaming longingly about warmer days only to find that when summer rolls around I’m seeking comfort in my air conditioned apartment. It’s pathetic I know but I’ve never been a girl who tolerates the extremes well.
These days I’m seeking refreshment in clean, cool foods that require as minimal cooking as possible. This pasta salad fits the bill perfectly.
Steak, leftover from the grill, is the star of the show. Tossed with al dente orecchiette, roasted bell peppers (Lazy as it is, I used jarred to avoid turning on the oven), artichoke hearts, quartered tiny heirloom tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, it’s perfect as a complete meal in a bowl or a picnic guest. I dress mine lightly with homemade pesto, but I think this could be equally wonderful with a balsamic or roasted garlic vinaigrette.
I also love how this took just shy of a pound of beef tenderloin, hardly an inexpensive cut, and stretched it out into six very satisfying meals. I’m looking forward to bringing this to work to enjoy outside (for as long as I can stand it) with a juicy chick lit book.
And I’m even more excited to share my good news! I accepted a job to work for another advertising agency here in Chicago. It’s certainly not a giant move (my EL stop remains the same) but I’m looking forward to new clients and challenges and especially, to a two week break between jobs. I’ve been working my butt off since I came to Chicago so the weeks of rest and relaxation couldn’t come any sooner. I was hoping it might also coincide with a potential condo closing but although my offer was accepted, my inspection was less than glorious and I’m currently at a loss about what to do. Still a to be continued on that one, but in the meantime I’m trying to revel in my new job and of course, delicious, delicious summer pasta salad.
Serves 6 as a main dish or 8-10 as a side
-1 1/2 cups dry orecchiette pasta
-1/2 cup prepared pesto
-1 1/2 quartered mini heirloom or grape tomatoes
-1/2 cup diced roasted bell peppers
-12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted, drained and lightly chopped
-1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
-1 pound room temperature cooked tenderloin steak, chopped
Cook pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Drain and toss with pesto. Set aside to cool. Once cool, toss with remaining ingredients and serve immediately or cool in the refrigerator before serving. Garnish with toasted pine nuts or shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.