This time last year we were making our way from the tiny village of Bosgouet in upper Normandy, France, to the bustling river city of Rouen. After a month in the remote French countryside, it was time to slip into the groove of daily life in a moderate-sized city for the remainder of the year. Living in the Vieux Marche (Old Market) area of the city, only a two-minute walk from where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, we took daily walks along those ancient cobblestone streets. With a café literally on every corner, there was no shortage of absorbing French culture, language and of course, food. Specialties of Rouen include apples, apple juice, the prized Calvados apple brandy and plenty of local cider. Everywhere we traveled in our new temporary home country offered distinct specialties and we tried them all! There were moules frites in Dieppe, Honfleur, Etretat and other coastal towns. In Paris, macarons and Paris Brest were a must. In the Champagne region, Reims, we experienced the tiny yet potent marc de champagne chocolates filled with eau de vie (literally, water of life). In Nice, we consumed what was perhaps one of our favorite dishes of all – Salade Niçoise. Niçoise salad isn’t such a foreign food to most of us. In fact, despite the fancy sounding name, it is truly a rather frugal dish, using the best fresh ingredients and seasonings Provence has to offer. As with most French food, it isn’t fussy, but straightforward, clean-tasting with real ingredients that make it ideal for summer meals. To make it a bit heartier, I like to take the dish to the next level with gluten-free pasta. I find tossing the still-warm pasta with the vinaigrette adds depth of flavor, with a burst of vibrant vinaigrette in every bite. I’ve tried a lot of different brands of pasta to determine which will hold up in the dish and Ronzoni Gluten Free® wins hands down. The four-grain blend of corn, quinoa and white and brown rice makes all the difference in the taste of this pasta. No one will guess they’re eating gluten-free, so feel free to serve this to your gluten-eating family and guests right along with the gluten-free folks. For this dish in particular, I love the way the Rotini spirals hold onto the vinaigrette. I follow the package directions to the letter (it’s different from most pasta in that you must rinse it after cooking) and get perfect results every time. It’s so much fun to bring back the flavors of France to our table any time we want. I know you’ll love this recipe, and your family will, too.
Ronzoni Gluten Free® Niçoise Pasta Salad
Serves 8 generously.
For the salad:
- 12 oz. Ronzoni Gluten Free® Rotini pasta
- 12 ripe Campari tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), quartered
- 2 (6 ounce) cans of sustainably caught wild tuna packed in water, drained and broken up into bite size chunks
- 8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered 1/2 cup small black olives (like Nicoise olives), drained and halved if desired
- Anchovies and/or cornichons (small pickles), optional – use 2 of each per serving, if desired
For the vinaigrette:
- 4 tablespoons vinegar (use rice vinegar for a mild flavor)
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence (or dried thyme)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Note: For perfect results, pay special attention to preparation directions (stir frequently, drain and rinse cooked pasta in warm water, then add oil or sauce, depending upon recipe). While pasta cooks, whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside. When pasta is cooked, carefully pour into a large colander and rinse pasta under warm water, drain well, then return pasta to cooking pot. Add vinaigrette and toss pasta. To prepare salads, divide pasta among 8 serving bowls, then top with remaining ingredients, dividing evenly among the 8 dishes. Garnish with anchovies and/or cornichons, if desired, and serve immediately. If you wish to make a large salad, simply place cooked, dressed pasta in a large container, top with remaining ingredients, then cover and chill until ready to serve, up to 4 hours.
You can get more gluten-free pasta recipes here, and be sure to enter below to win a $100 Visa gift card. That might not get you to France, but you sure can buy a lot of Ronzoni Gluten Free® pasta with that!
What is your favorite pasta salad recipe? Share it with me in the comments for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card!
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