There are a thousand ways to dress up pasta. You can cook it the traditional way with meatballs and marinara sauce or as a healthy vegetable medley sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Better still, why not be like Will Farrell in Elf and pour the hot condiment of the season—maple syrup—on your pasta, then top it off with marshmallows, swirly twirly gumdrops, and peppermint sticks? But let’s not get silly. This recipe, courtesy of the Blue Bird Café on West Main Street, is for classy affairs. Blue Bird’s sous-chef Rich Ridgely says while this dish is simple it “has a mouthful of flavors,” which no doubt come from the diverse mix of ingredients including feta, artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and asparagus. Even Randy from A Christmas Story would clean his plate if served this savory dish.
Blue Bird Pasta with Smoked Salmon
2 cups penne pasta, pre-cooked
4 artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup sun-dried tomato, julienned
16-20 kalamata olives
8 asparagus spears, blanched, cut in 1" pieces
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 red onion, julienned
2 oz. olive oil
2 oz. white wine
1/2 cup feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
6 pieces smoked salmon, thinly sliced, rolled into flowerettes
In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil until it shimmers in the pan using a stir-fry method. Add the artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, asparagus and onion. Constantly stir until vegetables are hot and bright. Add the white wine and garlic, tossing and simmering for three to four minutes on medium heat. Add the feta cheese and pasta. Toss and distribute well for two to three minutes on medium heat. Turn off the heat and season, remembering that feta cheese is quite salty. Divide into equal portions on plates and top with three salmon flowerettes each. Or top it with your protein of choice such as tofu, steak, shrimp, scallops or chicken. Yields two servings.