The Graduation Open House Saga Continues: Mediterranean Pasta Salad Recipe

My daughter's graduation open house is approaching, and I am trying not to freak out.  Mind you, I'm looking forward for the event and hosting our friends in my restaurant.  However, choosing to make French Macarons as one of the desserts is little out there.  The pistachio macaron turned out great, but my daughter insisted on having chocolate macarons, 400 of them.  Well, I've discovered or realized that the French macaron is not a dessert that you can do between jobs.   What I mean: the first thing I did wrong is that I tried to make the almond flour more fine by I placing the flour in the restaurant food processor.  When I used that flour, the macarons tasted strange. They had a peculiar flavor, then I realized what the flavor was: garlic.  I use the food processor to make hummus, and I guess that now garlic is permanently engraved into the machine.

I started making another batch while cooking for the restaurant and visiting with my customer; the egg white collapsed. With the third batch, I paid particular attention to the egg whites and meringue was perfect.  I folded the sugar flour mixture and piped the cookies.  My kitchen has three ovens, two of them being a stone oven with the temperature set to 500F. Because we are cooking all the time, the heat and the humidity prevented the macaron from drying so the infamous ridges were left unseen.  For the last batch, I placed the cookie sheets with the piped macaron on few tables in the restaurant and explained my story to my customers. Everyone thought that I am crazy for even trying to make 50 macarons, let a long 400 French macarons for the open house.  While I was in a bad mood, my daughter stopped in the restaurant to ask how the preparations were doing. I quickly snapped,  "Well, I am making eggplant tagaine and bulgur pilaf for main dishes and using the leftover Halloween candy for dessert."  The look in her face made me laugh so hard that I had to comfort her by assuring that every thing will be fine.  I made her favorite dishes, salads and desserts.  The party was last Sunday and everyone loved the food. I made my famous quinoa salad and my Mediterranean pasta salads and both were a hit if I say so myself.

Mediterranean Pasta Saladserves 81/2        pound small pasta shell1             red onion, julienned1/4        cup olive oil1            clove garlic, mashed1/2        cup sun-dried tomatoes1/2        cup pomegranate juice1/4        cup lemon juice1            cup diced heart of palms1           pound frozen artichoke heart, thawed2           cups chopped red cabbage1           cup pitted kalamata olives2          tablespoons capers1          tablespoon oreganozest of one lemonsalt to taste-Heat the olive oil and saute the red onion for couple minutes.  Add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and the pomegranate juice. Cook for couple minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.-In a salad bowl, toss the heart of palms with the red cabbage, the artichoke heart, the kalamata olives  and the capers.  Whisk the lemon juice with the rest of the olive oil, the lemon zest, the oregano  and the salt.  Drizzle this dressing over the vegetables and toss well.-Bring salted water to a boil.  Drop the pasta and cook until al-dente.  Drain well and add to the mixed vegetables.-Spoon the cooked onion and sun-dried mixture to the cooked pasta and toss well.  Serve room temperature.