A Pasta Salad Starring Tomatoes

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - June 27, 2007
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Waikiki resident Danica Kersh was born in Prague and has been in Hawaii for 20 years. A jewelry expert, she worked at Nieman Marcus and Ben Bridge before her current position as a sales consultant at Reflections of the Heart in Kahala Mall. Reflections of the Heart, owned by Kulani Fernandez and Don Olson, is a gallery featuring art glass, distinctive jewelry and handmade art pieces.

Danica enjoys nature walks and the beach as well as opera, theatre and the arts. One pleasure she especially enjoys is sampling gourmet foods at fine-dining restaurants. Danica travels to Europe regularly, and has been all over the world. This column is dedicated to her.

Roma tomatoes are essential to the flavor of this dish. Roma tomatoes, also called egg or plum tomatoes, are available at most supermarkets; this variety contains fewer seeds and less juice. Tomatoes were long considered poisonous and only used as ornamental plants until they found their way into Italian cooking in the 16th century, and became popular in the United States in the 1800s.

Choose firm, unblemished fruit that has a deep-red color, and no wrinkles. The tomato should yield to light pressure from the fingers and have a pleasant aroma. Lycopene is a pigment that gives tomatoes their characteristic red color, and is said to be a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Subsequent research has also found that lycopene reduces the amount of oxidized low-density lipoprotein - the so-called bad cholesterol - and therefore may reduce the risk of heart disease. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. They also contain folic acid and vitamin A.


* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 small Maui onion, fine chop
* 1/2 cup fat-free vinaigrette dressing
* 1 (12 ounce) package farfalle pasta (bowties) cooked al dente, rinsed and drained; toss with a bit of olive oil to coat pasta
* 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
* 6 fresh basil leaves, fine chop
* 6 kalamata olives, cut into small pieces
* 6 Roma tomatoes, diced or cut into small pieces
* fresh ground pepper and salt, to taste
* 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (to toast, spread on baking pan and toast in 400 degree oven, watching carefully until lightly browned)

Coat a small pan with cooking spray and cook garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Cool. In large bowl, toss garlic, onion and dressing with pasta to combine. Add feta cheese and toss to combine. Toss in basil and olives and carefully mix well. Gently fold in tomatoes. Add pepper and salt to taste and mix.Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Makes six servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 300 Fat: 6 grams Cholesterol: 20 milligrams Sodium: 250 milligrams, depending on salt added and salt in vinaigrette of choice

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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