Smoked Mozarella Pasta Salad, Israeli Couscous, Cookies

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Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
Maggie Norris
Yields: 6 servings

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 (8-ounce) package rotini pasta, cooked
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and cut into strips
3/4 pound smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 ½ cups baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup walnuts nuts, toasted
1 garlic clove, minced

Drain artichokes, reserving marinade. Cut artichokes into strips, and place in a large bowl. Add pasta and next 4 ingredients, and gently toss.
Stir together reserved artichoke marinade, olive oil, and next 3 ingredients until blended. Add to pasta mixture, stirring to combine. Cover and chill. Garnish, if desired.

Israeli Couscous
Adapted from Jeremy Sewall and Skip Bennett
Yields: 8 servings

6 cups packed arugula (6 ounces), plus whole leaves for garnish
2 cups Israeli couscous (12 ounces)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pints red cherry tomatoes, halved

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the 6 cups of arugula and blanch for 10 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the arugula to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.

Cook the couscous according to the package instructions. Spread it out on a large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to prevent clumping. Let the couscous cool to room temperature.

In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool.

Squeeze the excess water from the arugula and coarsely chop it. Transfer the arugula to a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese and the 1/2 cup of olive oil and process until the pine nuts are finely chopped. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

Transfer the couscous to a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto. Gently fold in the tomatoes. Garnish with the arugula leaves and serve.

Everything Cookies
Adapted from Great Cookies
Yields: 5 dozen 2 ½ inch cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup finely chopped sweetened, flaked coconut
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
1 cup good quality chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375°F. Moderately butter the cookie sheets.
Strain together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy.  Add the brown sugar, then the granulated sugar, and mix until well-blended, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and mix for 1 minute longer.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing just until blended.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in oatmeal, coconut, rice cereal, pecans and chocolate chips.

Drop walnut-size mounds from the tip of a tablespoon onto the cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to maintain an even combination of dough to textured ingredients.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.  Bake until the edges begin to turn golden brown.  Do not overbake.

Remove cookies from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes.  Using a thin metal spatula, carefully loosen and transfer to cooling racks.