Q • I would like the recipe for the Moroccan Pasta Salad served at Café Madeleine at the Piper Palm House on Mother’s Day last year. It has bowtie pasta, green olives and dried fruit; the dressing is outstanding. — Lea Ann Baker, Creve Coeur
A • The Piper Palm House’s tall, stately windows stream light onto a lush tropical garden. The building was once Henry Shaw’s greenhouse; it’s located in Tower Grove Park. Inside, Café Madeleine is open for special events and Sunday brunch where diners find made-to-order omelets, biscuits and gravy, and in-house smoked salmon; a selection of fresh salads; plus house-made pastries, including the restaurant’s signature sweet, shell-shaped French cookies called “madeleines.”
The salads vary from week to week, depending on what’s in season and what captures the chefs’ imaginations, says Greg Ziegenfuss, executive chef at Butler’s Pantry, the full-service catering company with exclusive arrangements for food preparation at the Piper Palm House plus other St. Louis venues such as Bixby’s at the Missouri History Museum and the just-restored Palladium St. Louis, once the laundry for City Hospital. In a typical January and February, Ziegenfuss says, salads might well feature local greens, beets and Brussels sprouts but in 2013, Café Madeleine will serve Moroccan Pasta Salad, along with other seasonal salads, each Sunday in January when it celebrates the restaurant’s 10th anniversary.
Moroccan Pasta Salad is savory, not sweet, with plenty of warm, not hot, spices and a balance of salty olives, sweet dried fruit and wet, crunchy vegetables. For home cooks who’d like to re-create the salad, Ziegenfuss offers a quick tip. Slice the onions as thinly as you can, then “cook” them in a little lemon juice before mixing with cooked pasta and other ingredients. “This makes the onion almost sweet, not sharp. You don’t want it to overpower.”
Moroccan Pasta Salad Recipe
Yield: 10-1/2 cups,
about 14 ¾-cup servings
|For pasta salad:|
|6 quarts water||½ red pepper, sliced in thin lengths|
|2 tablespoons table salt||½ yellow pepper, sliced in thin lengths|
|3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use||¾ cup small, pitted green olives (see note)|
|12 ounces bowtie pasta||1 cup dried tart cherries (see note)|
|1 medium red onion, sliced very thin||1 cup golden raisins|
|Zest and juice (about 2 tablespoons) of a lemon||1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano|
|1/3 cup red wine vinegar||½ teaspoon ground ginger|
|2 cloves garlic, minced||¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper|
|½ teaspoon cinnamon||1 tablespoon kosher salt|
|½ teaspoon smoked paprika||½ teaspoon white pepper|
|2/3 cup olive oil|
1. Cook pasta. Bring water, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, cool with cold water and while still warm, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let cool.
2. In a small bowl, “quick pickle” the onion by soaking in lemon juice and zest. Prep remaining pasta salad ingredients.
3. Make vinaigrette. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, garlic and spices. Slowly pour in olive oil, whisking all the time to emulsify.
4. Stir in cooked pasta, onion (including lemon juice and zest), peppers, olive, dried cherries and raisins. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
5. To allow flavors to meld, make salad 4 to 12 hours ahead of time. Just before serving, stir in fresh oregano.
Notes: Butler’s Pantry uses a picholine olive, a green olive used in cocktails. These can be difficult to find, a good substitute is a pimento-stuffed green olive.
• Look for dried tart cherries at Trader Joe’s or Global Foods in Kirkwood.
Per serving: 280 calories; 13g fat; 2g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 4g protein; 37g carbohydrate; 12g sugar; 4g fiber; 550mg sodium; 20mg calcium.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.