He Loves Me…He Loves My Harlequin Pasta

Ah, Valentine’s Day, my favorite holiday of the year. It probably started with all those little cards in my homemade shoebox covered with red and white doilies and pink construction paper in grade school. Perhaps the little conversation heart candies with “Be Mine” and “Too Sweet” stamped on them. Now they say things like “Email me” and “How ‘bout a threesome?” but I still like’em. And today? Oh, the pink and red theme, the roses, diamonds shaped like hearts, and of course the big heart chocolate boxes! I love, love, love everything about this romantic day, so when I found a cellophane package of Love Pasta I placed it in my cart immediately. It was made in Italy and a recipe on the back label in Italian was named “Cuori dell amore arlecchina.” (Heart Shaped Harlequin Pasta) The heart shaped pasta was red and white and green, typical of a Harlequin’s colorful clothes and from what I could decipher from the little Italian I know, the recipe had all sorts of colorful vegetables. So, when Dr. Love said he was coming home for lunch (a rare occasion), I thought a little Harlequin Heart Pasta Salad would be the perfect thing to remind him Valentine’s day was right around the corner.

Ok, before I get to the recipe, it’s time to bore you with a little love history about Valentine’s Day and while I’m at it, Harlequins. I just love how the harlequin theme combined with Valentine’s day is so full of romance! Who knew? Remember reading Harlequin Romances with a flashlight under your covers when you were a teenager? Well, I think I know why they named those books Harlequin. The Harlequin, or Arlecchino in Italian, was the Zanni (where the English word Zany originates), or the comic servant in Italian Commedia dell’arte. It was kind of an outdoor improvisational theater in the 16th century. The harlequin was dressed in tights and multicolored diamond patterned clothing, made from patches and rags, and he was depicted as the gluttonous buffoon. Of course, being a clever acrobatic athletic type, he always had a love interest and would try to win any lady for himself if he chanced upon someone else trying to woo her. He did this by interrupting or ridiculing the competition. Men still do this today, don’t they? Maybe that’s why we buy them those popular colorful argyle sweaters for Christmas! Linking the Harlequin idea with Valentine’s Day is becoming clear as the diamonds in that necklace you are hoping for, isn’t it?

Harlequins, the symbol of romance, ludicrous men and the argyle sweater

Well, as for the story of Valentine’s Day itself, leave it to those Romans once again. Saint Valentine (Valentio) was a Roman who was killed for his faith on February 14, 269 A.D. He had refused to worship pagan gods, and was arrested and incarcerated for marrying young Christian lovers in secret. In 496, his ‘saint day’ was established. Folklore tells us he is also associated with love because he fell in love with the daughter of his jailer, and would pass notes to her. His final note, before they lopped off his head at his execution, read ‘from your Valentini’. How ’bout that? Now you have a romantic tale to tell your sweetheart over this yummy Harlequin Pasta Salad. Maybe leave out that little detail about Valentini’s head being removed, not appetizing. I can tell you this, Dr. Love was so smitten with my pasta salad and my Scheherazade-like tales of romance he was tempted to take the rest of the day off after lunch. I told him to get back to work because he’ll need the money to buy me those roses, jewelry and chocolates for the big day.

St Valentine marries young lovers

And now the recipe for the love lunch:

Insalata de Cuori dell Amore Arlecchina


Heart Shaped Harlequin Pasta Salad

  • 1 lb of heart shaped pasta or any tri colored short shaped pasta (farfalle, rotini, etc.), cooked al dente, rinsed, drained and slightly cooled.
Bless their sweet little hearts…
  • ¼ cup of feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup each of whatever chopped colorful vege you have, the more the merrier.
Carrots, celery, red or green bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes halved, artichoke hearts, brocolli, zuchinni, hearts of palm, etc.
  • 1/4 cup sliced kalamata or black olives
  • 1/2 cup of diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes

(Let’s face it, this is your chance to use all those raw veges in the fridge you swore would be your only snack all week. That was until they were forgotten when you needed those potato chips to get you through the drama of watching the latest bachelorettes duke it out on The Bachelor. Aaah, romance.)

  • 1 can of cannellini or kidney beans (Dr. Love would ask “Where’s the protein?” if I didn’t add this ingredient.)

Combine all ingredients and gently fold in dressing. (recipe below) Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two. You might need a little more dressing as it absorbs while chilling.

Harlequin ingredients waiting to swoon with the heart shaped pasta

The Dressing

  • 1/4 Cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • A couple sprinkles of herbs de Provence (doesn’t that sound romantic? Or dried oregano and basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a cruet and shake your money maker, whoops I mean the bottle.

Oh, Be Still My Heart…Harlequin Pasta in a Valentine Bowl

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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6 Responses to “He Loves Me…He Loves My Harlequin Pasta”

  1. Wendy Says:

    Beautiful and very scrumptious-looking! Love the interesting history lesson, too! This looks like it should be enjoyed with a nice bottle (or two) of Italian red vino.

  2. Lorie Says:

    Looks like a wonderful and healthy recipe. I will have to try it but will just have to get the tri-color pasta in a different shape. And I LOVED reading all about St. Valentine’s Day. Hope this goes through ok.

  3. Lorie Says:

    FYI: I put your blog on my blog so I can check it for some good old pasta recipes. 🙂 Pasta is Always good with the kiddos.

  4. Lorie Says:

    Just wanted to tell you I made this two nights ago and it was delicious! Everyone LOVED it. And what was really good, the kids could pick out what veggies they didn’t like and there was enough veggies in it that they still ate healthy so it was really low stress for me. It is a recipe keeper for us. Yay!

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