Wednesday, July 18, 2012

amerigo's bow tie pasta caesar salad - lazy daisy style

There are few restaurants I visit that I am so into what I'm eating I have to go home and figure out how to make it myself.  It's not that I don't like them enough to go to the trouble, it's just nice to keep those particular dishes special, only to be eaten at their place of "invention," if you will.  Such is not the case with this salad.  

Years ago, working in the music industry, there were lots of lunches out, with one frequent stop being Amerigo.  As much as I tried to venture away from my usual, pushing myself to order anything else but this salad, I just couldn't do it.  I fell in love with it from the get-go and craved it for lunch and dinner, at the restaurant, or not.  The recipe is not complex whatsoever, but the flavors are all over the place and just perfect together.  With a blend of multiple condiments, Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pesto and Caesar dressing, all accompanying the superstar, Sun-Dried Tomato, I still, ten years later, love eating this like it's the first time I've had it.  

Knowing our hectic schedule this week, I put frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot overnight, enough to fill this salad and use for Friday's meal.  So this only required cooking noodles and putting it all together.  I did add the extra noodles to red marinara sauce for the boys, which begs me to share Daniel's comment while gobbling up his pasta:  "Man, these spices are so yummy, (chew) and the sauce (chew) just brings out their flavor..."


Yeah.  He's nine.  

At any rate, once again, we have super-fast, super-delicious, and really pretty (pretty does matter, doesn't it?).

I have included my pesto recipe that I promised in my first recipe post I'd share.  It's not necessary to have homemade pesto, or even homemade dressings, for the dish... but they do make it even better.  And who wants store-bought pesto when there's a plethora of beautiful basil growing right outside the door?  

Will you be the first to try this salad and tell us all about it? Would love to hear your comments.

Buon appetito!  That's Italian. :)

Amerigo's Bow-Tie Pasta Caesar Salad 
(lazy daisy style)
makes 2 servings

For the pesto
  • 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 8 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

~  Place nuts, basil and garlic in food processor and pulse until nuts are finely chopped.
~  Leaving processor running, pour in olive oil until all ingredients fully incorporated and 
~  Season generously with salt and pepper.

For the salad
  • 1 1/2 head Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes from oil-packed jar, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked bow tie pasta
  • 2 tbsp. shredded fresh parmesan cheese
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste 
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, Caesar Dressing, Pesto

~  Divide lettuce and spread over plate. 
~  Divide and layer chicken, tomatoes and pasta.
~  Sprinkle with cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
~  Add desired amounts of dressings and pesto.  

*  I make pesto with our basil throughout the summer and freeze 
    extra in containers or freezer-safe baggies to use throughout the
    year.  It stays fresh for several months.

Recipe inspired by Amerigo.  Pesto recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Recipes