Summer is here and that means we typically shy away from hot soup, stew or anything heavy. We tend to favor grilled meats, salads, and well, beer. But if you had a fear of pasta salad because it was too girly, I'm here to tell you to fear not – because I've created three dude-friendly cold pasta dishes that will put hair on your chest and pleasure in your belly. I give to you: antipasto pasta, buffalo chicken pasta and cold sesame noodles. Each recipe is good for 2 to 3 servings, but you can multiply that out if you need to.
Good Italian restaurants serve antipasto as a salad, and that usually means salami and other meats, cheeses like provolone, olives, tomatoes and artichokes -- or some variation on that. Here I took that concept to the pasta salad level, including a generous amount of heart-healthy olive oil.
1/2 lb. Bow Tie pasta
1 large red bell pepper (or 1 large roasted red pepper, diced)
1/2 cup cubed provolone cheese
1/3 cup diced hard salami (5 or 6 thick slices)
1/4 cup diced deli ham (any Italian lunch meat works too)
1/4 cup diced roasted turkey
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup sliced green olives
1/3 cup chick peas
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup prepared pesto sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions, but on the lower end of the time (i.e., if it says 9 to 11 minutes, go with 9). Drain pasta and set aside. Trim end off red pepper, slice in half and grill for 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly charred. Cut into chunks (or use a jarred red pepper to save time). Combine cooked pasta, red pepper, cheese, salami, ham, turkey, olives and chick peas in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until combined. Toss with pasta and serve.
Buffalo Chicken Pasta
I love chicken wings, but I've come to realize that it's not just the fried goodness that makes wings such a god-like food. It's the sauce. Admit it, you could drink a few shots of the stuff, couldn't you? Well, I've made buffalo chicken pizza, and now I have come up with buffalo chicken pasta. You can thank me later.
4 to 5 chicken tenders
1/2 cup prepared buffalo wing sauce (a good thick one), plus 2 to 4 Tbsp.
1/2 lbs. Penne pasta (or any kind you have)
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat in a grill pan or on a real grill, about 5 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Chop into pieces and toss with 1 to 2 tablespoons of wing sauce. Cook pasta according to package directions, but on the low end of the time, and drain. Add another 1 to 2 Tbsp. wing sauce to chicken. Combine chicken, pasta, and celery in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir until smooth. Toss with pasta and serve.
Cold Sesame Noodles
I fell in love with cold sesame noodles as a kid growing up on Long Island, where there are amazing Chinese restaurants. One restaurant made this dish to perfection, and I have done my best to recreate it. If you like peanut butter, you will love this recipe.
1/2 lb. buckwheat soba noodles or spaghetti
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. hoi sin sauce (it's kind of a Chinese barbecue sauce)
2 tsp. lime juice
1 tsp minced ginger
Water as needed
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
Red pepper flakes
In a large serving bowl, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, hoi sin sauce, lime juice and ginger. Mix well, then gradually add water, 1 tbsp. at a time until sauce is smooth and creamy and losing some of its thickness. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and add to sauce along with cucumber and green pepper. Stir to combine, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and sesame seeds, and serve.