Cold pasta salads are cool in every sense of the word. Some of them are also perfect for quick meals, proof that quick, chic and good can be synonymous.
This meal is extremely simple by any standards. With the exception of the top-quality olive oil there is nothing which can't be purchased at your local supermarket. The oil is a staple you ought to have on hand in your cupboard.
Cooking is kept to a minimum so the kitchen won't heat up, and as long as you have a toaster oven to melt the cheese on the bread you don't have to turn on the oven.
If you want to take the time, or happen to live near a place that sells fresh or frozen pasta you can try fresh fettucine in place of the shells.
The idea, though, is to keep it simple. Don't make a lot of stops on the way home. Don't fuss in the kitchen. And still produce a meal in 30 minutes. That's from the time you put on your apron, if you wear one, until the time you sit down to enjoy this perfect summer meal.
If someone else sets the table you will even have time to cut up some fruit for dessert, if you like. Otherwise just serve the pick of the season, plums or nectarines. MENU Broccoli, Tuna and Shells Cheese, Garlic and Parsley Bread Plums or Nectarines
SHOPPING LIST: macaroni shells, 2 large stalks broccoli, 2 medium-large tomatoes, 1 can water-packed tuna, small red onion, French or sourdough rolls, Monterey Jack cheese, parsley.
STAPLES: salt and pepper, red wine or basil vinegar; olive oil, fresh or dried basil; fresh or dried oregano, garlic. BROCCOLI, TUNA AND SHELLS (2 large or 3 small servings) 2 cups macaroni shells 2 large stalks broccoli, about 1 1/4 pounds 2 medium-large tomatoes 1 can tuna, packed in water 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar or basil vinegar 5 tablespoons good quality olive oil 2 heaping tablespoons freshly chopped basil or 2 teaspoons dried 2 teaspoons freshly chopped oregano, 2/3 teaspoon dried 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped red onion Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring hot water to boil in covered pot. (Salt if desired.)
Bring hot water to boil in steamer. Remove tough stems from broccoli and cut heads into flowerettes.
Cook shells in rapidly boiling water until tender, about 7 minutes. Steam broccoli for about 5 minutes, depending on size of flowerettes. Drain shells and rinse in cold water until shells are cooled. Drain broccoli and rinse under cold water until cool.
Meanwhile drain tuna and run under cold water; drain. Cut tomatoes into large cubes. Beat together oil and vinegar and beat in basil and oregano. Combine vegetables, onion, shells and tuna. Pour in dressing and mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. CHEESE GARLIC PARSLEY BREAD (3 rolls) 3 sourdough or French rolls 1 cup coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese 1 large clove garlic 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
Cut rolls in half. Grate cheese. Squeeze garlic through garlic press or mince finely. Mince parsley. Mix cheese with garlic and parsley. Pile the cheese mixture generously on each roll half and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.
GAME PLAN: Boil water for shells. Boil water for broccoli. Trim broccoli. Cook shells. Steam broccoli. Cut up tomatoes. Drain and rinse tuna. Drain and cool broccoli under cold water. Chop oregano. Chop basil. Chop red onion. Drain and rinse shells. Mix oil, vinegar, basil and oregano. Combine shells, vegetables and tuna. Mix in dressing. Grate cheese. Press garlic. Chop parsley. Cut rolls. Mix cheese, garlic and parsley; spread on rolls and broil.