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Food: Foods for the Fourth

July 2, 2011

 For the Fourth of July I really wanted to make this cake. But if my baking qualifies as barely passable then my spatial reasoning is downright bad (don’t ask about my sense of direction). So instead of taking a class on architecture to build a dessert, I’m going the traditional route instead. That’s right, stars and stripes forever.

Once I make my cake I’ll post a picture of the finished product, which may or may not resemble Ina Garten’s example.

photo from

Also included in this post:  two recipes for easy and (relatively) healthy summer sides for any backyard parties you may be having this year. Happy Independence Day!

You can use whatever mix of vegetables you want with this pasta salad, you just want a good texture balance between crunchy and chewy.

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Vinaigrette
1 lb fusilli pasta cooked, drained, cooled
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, or oven roasted tomatoes, chopped
1 cup small mozzarella balls (bocconcini), sliced in half
1 cup asparagus, blanched and chopped into bite sized pieces

zest and juice from one lemon
1/4 cup basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare vinaigrette by mixing together mustard, shallot, lemon juice, basil, and garlic, then slowing streaming in olive oil, while whisking all ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour half of the dressing into the bottom of a large bowl, add in cooled pasta and chopped vegetables and cheese. Top with remaining dressing, toss. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Butter beans are a healthy alternative to potato salad, plus they are creamy and satisfying. I posted this recipe once before, as an accompaniment to Chicken Scallopine.

Butter Bean Salad
3 cans Butter Beans (also known as Gigandes) 1 bunch basil, chopped
Juice of two lemons plus zest of one
2 tbsps olive oil
1 tomato, chopped
1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
2 cups mache or arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain the beans, put into a large mixing bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice and zest (it seems like a lot but it makes the canned beans taste really fresh), tomato, peppers, salt and pepper. Mix well.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours- this gives the flavors a chance to marry and marinate in the lemon juice. Just before serving, fold in the greens, then taste and adjust the salt/pepper seasoning if needed.

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