As so often happens, I was struck with an absolutely brilliant, original idea last week. And, as so often happens, I went to "the Google" to do some research and found out that approximately 1, 370, 492 other people also had that exact same absolutely brilliant, original idea. It all started when I checked my meal plan and found that I had scheduled Pasta e Fagioli for dinner. In late July. Why I planned to serve hot soup for dinner in July escapes me at the moment. My initial thought was to ignore the weather, crank up the A/C and bravely forge ahead. Then I walked outside. And melted. Soup was obviously off the menu. Still... beans, tomatoes, pasta, onions... of course! A dinner salad.
I have to confess: Despite the sheer brilliance of my idea, this did not really go over very well. It was a little too light for dinner. Everyone ate it, but we were all back in the kitchen a few hours later, foraging for snacks. It would have been perfect for lunch.
It was pretty simple to throw together. I chopped some ham (you can use pancetta if you want to be authentic and if your small-town grocer won't eye you suspiciously if you ask for it), tomatoes, onions, and carrots. Then I drained and rinsed a can of beans, boiled some whole wheat rotini, and tossed it all together.
The dressing was a variation of gremolata. I used lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, lemon thyme, and coarse salt to make a vinaigrette with olive oil and lemon juice. I served it on a bed of baby spinach and topped it with basil and parmesan. I'll make this again but not for dinner. It'll go in the healthy lunch rotation -- you know, when I have to atone for my pie sins.