Lumache with cucumber salsa

    55 min

    A little snail-shaped pasta called lumache captures a herby yogurt and tomato dressing so that each one is full of flavour. A refreshing vegetable and fruit salsa brings extra nutritional value as well as exciting taste and texture contrast. Offer warm crusty bread to mop up all the juices from the salsa.

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    Serves: 4 

    • 225 g (8 oz) lumache (pasta snails) or other hollow shapes
    • 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint
    • 4 tbsp snipped fresh chives
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
    • 4 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
    • 200 g (7 oz) plain low-fat yogurt
    • 1 avocado
    • salt and pepper
    • sprigs of fresh mint to garnish
    • Cucumber salsa
    • 4 celery sticks, finely diced
    • 1 green pepper, seeded and finely diced or chopped
    • ½ cucumber, diced or chopped
    • 4 spring onions, finely sliced or chopped
    • grated zest of 1 lime (optional)
    • 50 g (1¾ oz) watercress, coarsely chopped
    • 100 g (3 ½ oz) ready-to-eat dried mango slices, diced
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 crisp sweet-sour dessert apple, such as Braeburn or Jonagold

    Prep:45min  ›  Cook:10min  ›  Ready in:55min 

    1. Cook the pasta in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
    2. Meanwhile, mix the parsley, mint, chives and tarragon with the tomatoes in a large bowl (the bowl should be large enough to take the cooked pasta too). Add a little seasoning and then stir in the yogurt.
    3. Drain the cooked pasta thoroughly, shaking the shapes in a colander to make sure that there is no cooking water trapped in them. Add the hot pasta to the yogurt dressing and use a large spoon to turn them until they are thoroughly coated. Cover and set aside to cool until just warm. The pasta salad tastes good warm or it can be served cold, in which case leave to cool completely, then chill for 1 hour. The pasta can be dressed several hours in advance if this is more convenient.
    4. Meanwhile, mix together the celery, green pepper, cucumber and spring onions. Stir in the lime zest, if using, the watercress and diced dried mango. Cover and set aside.
    5. Shortly before serving, stir the oil into the cucumber mixture with seasoning to taste. Quarter, core and finely dice the apple, leaving its peel on. Add to the cucumber salsa and stir well so the apple is mixed in.
    6. Halve the avocado and remove the stone, then cut it lengthways into quarters and peel off the skin. Dice the flesh and mix it into the pasta.
    7. Serve the cucumber salsa as an accompaniment to the pasta so that it can be added to taste. (The hot pasta absorbs its yogurt dressing, becoming quite dry as it cools, so the cucumber salsa acts as a second dressing.) Garnish with sprigs of mint and serve immediately.

    Some more ideas

    This is an excellent recipe for wholemeal pasta or corn and vegetable pasta (useful for those on a gluten-free diet), as the firm texture and slightly nutty flavour balance the light, crunchy salsa. * Add a finely chopped garlic clove to the yogurt dressing, if liked. * Keep the yogurt dressing green by omitting the tomatoes, and make a red salsa using red pepper, instead of green, and a red-skinned apple. Add the tomatoes to the salsa and season it with a little paprika to warm both the flavour and colour. * Other dried fruit can be used instead of mango. Dried pineapple and dried apricots are both delicious.

    Plus points

    Vitamin C in fruit and vegetables is easily destroyed during cooking, so eating them raw ensures they provide the maximum of their vitamin content. * The bacteria used to make yogurt are known to be helpful in maintaining the balance between ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’ bacteria that live in the digestive tract.

    Each serving provides

    C * A, B1, B6, E, niacin, calcium, copper, iron, potassium * folate, selenium

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