Monday, March 16, 2009

Zippy Zesty Zasta Zalad

This recipe was born out of my serious need to never waste anything!  I had put together a marinade for some tofu that I planned to bake later in the day. Once the tofu had soaked up what it needed from the marinade I had a ton of it left and I didn't want to waste it so I came up with my own little version of a Southwestern type of Pasta Salad, using the leftover marinade as my base for the sauce. My version took a little bit longer than if you already had the ingredients prepped and ready to go. (I soak my own beans and juice my own fruit, but canned is fine too) You can substitute with any veggies that you like. I choose an orange pepper for the color and mild flavor- but green would be good too. I added the zucchini for a little more of a green punch- lightly wilted spinach would be good too. The tomatoes I decided to add as a garnish since of few of my family members do not care for them- but I think you could mix them right in and it would still be yummy. Finely chopped Red onion would go well too if you wanted it, but I thought it had enough zest without it. (Onion is another thing that the family isn't crazy about) This zalad just reminds me of summertime family picnics with the refreshing hints of lemon and lime and the zest of the cilantro.
During a time of year when we are ready to sweep away the winter blues and welcome the new born beauty of all that the season of spring promises- this recipe just helped me deal with the impatience that I have grown accustomed to experiencing during the month of March in Northern Michigan.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Zalad Marinade-
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 heaping tablespoons of Tomato paste
1.5 tbsp chili powder (add more to your own taste- I added another tbsp)
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Optional: Hot Sauce or red chili powder to spice it up

Zalad Ingredients:
16oz box of dry Rotini or Penne Pasta cooked, drained, cooled
1 can of Black Beans drained and rinsed
1.5 cup Frozen sweet corn thawed
1 cup of chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped green red or orange bell pepper
1- 1.5 cup of diced fresh cherry tomatoes
fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Optional: Wilted spinich, 1/2 cup red oonion, 1 cup chopped tomatoes

Follow pasta cooking instructions, making sure not to over cook your noodles.
While the noodles cook you can start marinade by putting cilantro, orange, lemon and lime juice, maple syrup,chili powder, garlic powder, cumin powder,oil, salt into a blender and pureeing until well combined. Pour marinade into a glass bowl and add tomato paste. Whisk paste until it becomes saucy. 
Rinse, drain and cool noodles and put into a large bowl. Add sweet corn, black beans, bell peppers, zucchini and tomatoes (unless you want to use them as a garnish with the cilantro) Carefully mix everything together. Add the marinade and gently toss with pasta mix. Cool in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.
If you are using tomatoes as a garnish, sprinkle them on top before serving and add a few fresh cilantro sprigs to add some fresh flair.

Enjoy and let me know if you try it. I will be featuring this recipe at one of my taste events coming up soon if you want to try it out before you make it! :)