Every now and again, I see articles on a ‘Must Haves List’ for keeping a well-stocked Pantry and am always curious to see what others consider among their essentials. As far as fresh ingredients, to me, having a variety of fresh herbs on hand offers a flexibility that not only enhances flavors among any number of dishes but also provides the diversity at any time combined alongside varying spices to create dishes from among any cultural foods around the world.
Fresh herbs also provide the ease of preparing quick and easy dishes bursting with flavors and highlighted with fresh scents when you may be tired or pressed for time and such was the case for me last week when one of our two weekly travel games followed by a Tailgate usually occurring on weekend days happened last Friday. Now I know many folks like me prefer engaging in the preparation of interesting dishes, those not so standard, and I also know that sometimes in the hectic schedule of life we are simply pressed to put together something more basic than desired.
When it comes to my own dry good pantry ‘must haves’ during the sports season always included in the stash are a couple of boxes of the old standby, Large Size Shells. Large Shells fit the bill precisely for those occasions requiring rapid speed preparation while still providing a festive look when combined with a diverse range of compatible accompaniments. Last spring on one of those particularly busy travel weeks I also prepared a Shell Salad with assorted type beans and it too worked out well and I shared it on our Tailgate segment of Spiced Peach Blog.
Fortunately, last week I had a nice selection of fresh herbs on hand from which to choose including the fresh parsley still thriving in my backyard garden. Combining fresh chopped mint and basil along with the parsley added a fresh clean taste while enhancing just a few other pantry ingredients into two one pound boxes of shell pasta, including angle sliced celery, finely chopped scallions, and some frozen petite peas.
With a light coating of extra virgin olive oil, a couple of squeezes of fresh juice from a half of a lemon, the combination only required some added seasoning of Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, that’s it.
Having a ‘clean’ taste seems to be the operative word for this dish too as uniquely this is how a couple of the mom’s referred back to me on it really enjoying the combined flavor punch, including the added freshness from the mint. Of the prepared two pounds ( a one pound recipe is provided below that can easily be doubled for Tailgating or large group Buffets) a small amount remained which then got sent back to the senior players apartment for a later meal. Being a Friday, Tailgates tend to be light so it is likely the two pound amount would have been just enough with a larger weekend crowd. This dish also travels well.
Although today’s Fresh Herbs Shell Salad was prepared in a bit of a fatigued time crush, still in addition to being quick and easy its clean fresh flavors complement most any other dish provided on a buffet table. You might easily transform the combination to a luncheon dish, a side dish, or a quick weeknight dinner with added ingredients as shrimp or grilled chicken.
Even as a standard Fresh Herbs Shell Salad comes back to the well-stocked Pantry, essential ingredients such as a selection of fresh herbs offering possibilities to create either many interesting dishes from throughout the world, or in a pinch, the quickest meals of simplicity, including those for the Tailgate Table. Go Team.
- 16 ounces large shell pasta, cooked, rinsed and tossed with a little olive oil, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
- 3 stalks celery, sliced thinly on a diagonal
- 6 scallions, thinly chopped
- 8 ounce frozen petite peas, thawed
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice from half a lemon, and little extra to taste before serving
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- Into a large bowl combine together the cooked shell pasta, celery, scallions and peas. Stir in the olive oil, fresh lemon juice, kosher salt and pepper. Gently stir through the combined chopped fresh herbs, parsley, mint, and basil. Taste for seasoning adding in a little more salt and fresh lemon to desired taste.
- For Tailgating: Before traveling, taste the Fresh Herbs Shell Salad and if a little extra moisture is needed stir through about a tablespoon of olive oil. Take along an extra lemon and if desired at serving time squeeze a bit extra juice into salad adjusting any additional salt and pepper to taste.