Tropical Pasta Salad with Fresh Fruit, Coconut and Jerk-Tempeh

15 07 2011

Monday was one of those days where I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Cape Cod. Refreshing. A day off from work with the boyfriend lead to lunch at La Petite France Cafe on Main St. Gazpacho Soup & Garden Veggie sandwich (lettuce, tomato, avocado, cucumber, onion, sprouts, roasted red peppers, baby Swiss and balsamic vinegarette)

Followed by splurging on a cheap pair of Keens, iced lemon matés at Common Ground (my lifeblood), library books (currently reading An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin), an hour at the beach then a stop at Lamberts to pick up fresh fruits & veggies for tonights din.

The creamy coconut dressing mixed with the sharp cheese and juicy fruit is a crazy awesome flavor combo. And the coolness of the salad helps balance out the jerk spice, which can be a little overwhelming, if your boyfriend accidentally dumps half a bottle of cayenne pepper into it. If you use a fresh pineapple, be sure to use it as bowl because it leaves some awesome flavor bits at the bottom.

Tropical Pasta Salad with Fresh Fruit & Coconut
Adapted from Vegan Planet

12 oz. small pasta of your choice
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (about 1 pineapple)
1 ripe mango; peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 navel orange; peeled, white pith removed and cut into 1-in. chunks
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup celery, minced
2 tbs. scallions, minced
2 tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cayenne
Salt
Salad greens
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut; toasted
Gorgonzola cheese (optional)

Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water and place in a large bowl. Add the pineapple, mango, orange, bell pepper, celery, scallions and mint. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk, orange juice, lime juice/zest, brown sugar, allspice, cayenne and salt to taste. Mix well. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to coat evenly.

Arrange the salad greens on plates (or if you’re in a fancy decorative mood OR have just 2 people eating and used a whole pineapple OR if you have more than 2 people eating but only like 2 of them, plate the greens in the hulled out pineapple halves and give them to your two besties/sexies). Place some pasta salad on top and sprinkle with the toasted coconut, gorgonzola and jerk-spiced tempeh (Recipe below). Gorge.

Jerk-Spiced Tempeh

2 tsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Olive oil

In a shallow bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cut the tempeh in half then into 4 trianges. Coat with olive oil then dredge all sides in the spice mixture. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook until brown and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes.

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