Light Lemon Pasta Salad

Picnic (N): A meal that is taken out of doors by Gentiles, regardless of heat or flies.
I do not like picnics. I like air conditioning. Cable TV. Not looking at bugs.
And I REALLY like not having to over think what I can eat out of doors.
Picnics mean few utensils, food that can be served room temperature, and for Pete’s sake, NO MAYONNAISE. That stuff spoils faster than the kids on Toddlers and Tiaras.
That’s when you need something light but filling that travels well and has no dairy in it.
Enter: Lemon Pasta Salad.
2 Lbs. Corkscrew or other pasta shape
4 Tbls. Lemon Zest
3 Cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cups olive oil
1 large bunch basil, leaves removed from stems and cleaned
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups pine nuts
salt to taste
1)Boil that pasta. Remember that pasta takes awhile when it is in shapes, so let it boil until it is just barely less than al dente. That means that it should be a little chewy, not to say crunchy, because it will continue to cook after you take it off the heat. 2 lbs will probably take about 12 minutes.
 In the meanwhile…
 3)Zest your lemons either with a zester or a microplane, and put it in a small dish.. Remember that you only want the yellow part of the skin, NOT the bitter white pith. Also, do this BEFORE you juice your lemons. Zesting a cut lemon may result in accidentally zesting the skin off of your thumb.
So I hear, I mean…
4) Post zesting, juice your lemons
 Either with a fork or with a juicer. Make sure no seeds get into the lemon juice bowl.
5)By now the pasta should be done! Drain most of it BUT retain about 1/2 a cup of water right in the pot. This cooking water holds a lot of the starches that the pasta released during boiling, and will make the sauce thicker and stay on the pasta better.
6)Dump in the lemon juice
7)Dump in the lemon zest
As you stir the pasta, the scent of the lemon will hit you like a ton of lemon trees. The steam mixing with the lemon zest makes the whole pot smell like a Sicilian lemon grove – tart, fresh, bright. The reason you want the pasta warm when you pour the juice in is so that it can absorb all the lemon juices and the starchy pasta water, infusing each noodle with the flavor.
 8)Now you add the oil
9)And the salt. Mix well.
10)Now you have to transfer the pasta to a bowl and let it cool for awhile – till it is at least room temperature.
11)When the pasta is cool, take your pine nuts and toss them in the salad.
Pine nuts have a very buttery, fatty taste and a yielding texture. They remind me of slivered almonds, but with an even richer mouthfeel. They are delicious in cookies, or in a bright dish, like this one, to add some heft and fat content.
12)Parmesan cheese time!
I know I said no dairy, but this probably won’t spoil – I haven’t ever heard of someone getting food poisoning form slightly warm Parmesan cheese. If you are really worried, then you can always add the Parm at the picnic spot right before you serve it.
Or leave it out. Only do that if you want me to REALLY dislike you.
13)Add basil
14) Stir
15)Enjoy. This pasta is so light, bright and fragrant that it is impossible not to smile when eating it. The basil adds a grassy taste that echoes the herby lemon zest. The sauce is less of a coat and more of a light summer cardigan – it just BARELY dresses the pasta, letting the taste and texture of the noodles shine through the tart lemon taste. The pine nuts are a welcome crunchy bite amidst the soft, but not mushy noodles and the tiny strands of lemon zest. This is so good, it actually makes picnicking worthwhile.
Though, let’s be honest…I ate this at home.
And yeah…I watched Toddlers and Tiaras while I ate it.