Thursday, October 30, 2014

"She Came In Through the Kitchen Window - Recipes Inspired by the Beatles and Their Music" - Give Peas (and Pasta) a Chance

Date I made this recipe:  October 27, 2014

She Came in Through the Kitchen Window – Recipes Inspired by the Beatles and Their Music by Stephen J. Spignesi
Published by:  Citadel Press
ISBN:  0-8065-2359-X
Purchased at Half-Price Books, St. Louis Park
Recipe:  "Give (Pasta and) Peas a Chance ("Give Peace a Chance) – p. 143

So.  This is one of those long stories not made short.  And that's because we have to go backwards in time to August 9, 1969 and an awful event that played out in the national news that involved celebrities, famous families, a clan of murderers and even the subject of today's blog, The Beatles.  So buckle your seatbelts because try as I might, I cannot think of how to talk about this cookbook and this recipe without going long on the details of how I came to select this book.  Ready?

On August 9, 1969, actress Sharon Tate (Valley of the Dolls), wife of director Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby), her unborn baby (she was 8 months pregnant), and four others, including an heir to the Folgers coffee fortune, were brutally murdered at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, CA (north of Beverly Hills).  News of the event swept the nation and for months, eyes were glued to the set and to print news as we tried to make sense out of what happened.  I was 10 years old, my 11th birthday being just a few months away in October.

The day after the "Tate murder," in a seemingly unrelated event (it wasn't), Rosemary and Leno LaBianca were murdered in Los Angeles in similar fashion.  Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were successful business owners.  The two murders eventually became known as the "Tate-LaBianca Murders."

At both scenes, messages were written on the wall in the victim's blood:  "Pigs," "Piggies," and the now infamous "Helter Skelter" (misspelled by murderer Patricia Van Winkle as Healter Skelter with an extra "a").  "Helter Skelter" was the name of a song on the Beatle's White Album, along with "Revolution" and "Piggies."  This eventually becomes an important tidbit.

After quite the investigation and much piecing together of puzzle pieces, LA's police and sheriff's departments determined that cult leader, Charles Manson, a career criminal, and his followers known as "The Family" were behind these murders.  LA Deputy District Attorney, Vincent Bugliosi, finally brought this group to trial for the Tate-La Bianca murders.  He then wrote a book, Helter Skelter – The True Story of the Manson Murders – which I read for the first time in 1974 when the book was released. (I was in 10th grade at the time, but what can I say – I was fascinated by this story.) In 1977, Bugliosi came to speak about the murders at my undergrad alma mater, Northern Michigan University – props to NMU for having him and okay, props to me for going. You might think that this is what eventually spurred me to start law school, but alas, kids, that didn't happen until 2001.  (PS—most of The Family was convicted although some made deals in exchange for testimony.)

So to fast forward just a bit here:  45 years have now gone by since the Tate-LaBianca murders.  (What would I do without People magazine reminding me of this?).  And that prompted me to re-read this 670 page tome.  And I have to tell you that this is one of the best "primers" for how to build a case and argue that case in court that I've ever read.  If we would have been assigned this book and this book alone in law school for my Criminal Law class instead of a boring case book, I would have been one, happy 1L (nickname for first year law students) camper!  Honestly, although the details of these murders are horrifying and the Manson family's capers were chilling, this was a riveting read.  That said, my husband chuckled at my whining:  "Oh My God!  I've been reading forever and I still have 400 pages to go!  I'll never finish!"  Then later on:  "Okay, only 300 pages to go.  I'm making progress!"  Still later:  "I'm within spitting distance – only 200 pages."  And once I got to the last 100, I was a woman on a mission, determined to finish this up ASAP.  It did not hurt that my book was due (second renewal, no less) two days after I turned the last page.  So I got 'er done just under the wire – whew.

At this point, I bet you're wondering when on earth I'll get to the point of this blog and this cookbook.  Patience, people, patience – we're almost there!

Over time, detectives and Bugliosi were able to make the connection to why Mason's Family attacked the people at 10050 Cielo Drive, particularly because none of "The Family" members had met any of the residents or their guests.  But Charles Manson did.   The person Charles met previously was Terry Melcher, Doris Day's son.  Terry was a record producer.  Terry previously rented 10050 Cielo Drive before Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski took over the lease.  Manson, thinking himself a man of considerable song-writing talent, yearned to make a but Melcher didn't concur and refused to record Manson.  Manson was more than a bit peeved.  And so to get back at Melcher, he ordered the attack (he didn't participate that night) on the people living at 10050 Cielo Drive. 

Also important to know:  Mason believed that "Helter Skelter," the name of the Beatles tune, signified the "revolution" of the black man rising up against the establishment.  Manson called the "establishment" (i.e. people who were better off than he was) "pigs" or "piggies."  (At the time, cops were often referred to as "pigs" and so the LAPD was understandably confused when the murders didn't have any connection to cops.)  And so that's what those words written in blood meant.  In Manson's mind, he planned to make it look like those killings were the acts of the black men who he would help with their revolution.  The only thing he accomplished was putting the fear of God into everyone in the Los Angeles area, particularly those in the movie or music industry.  And it didn't set too well with folks outside that LA area, either.

This brings us (at long last) to The Beatles. (Ta Da!) Manson worshipped The Beatles.  He thought that they were four angels (he was the fifth) and he pretty much ordered "The Family" to listen to their White Album for inspiration for all their soon-to-be criminal activities.  So when news reported all this, suddenly the White Album became the evil empire.  And while I was a little too young to be a die-hard Beatles fan, I also didn't see what all the fuss was about until this all erupted.  You'd have thought the Beatles were personally involved in the crimes for all the caterwauling that went on but you have to understand that people were very freaked out by this.  Actually, make that terrified.  In another ironic turn, Manson also happened to meet the Beach Boy's drummer, Dennis Wilson, while at a party attended by Terry Melcher.  So that tidbit hit the news as well.  And as a postscript, as hard as it might be to believe, Charles Manson songs were covered by several groups, most notably Guns and Roses.  I tell you what, I learn something every day.

So, the entire time I was re-reading Helter Skelter, I had an ear-worm going of many Beatles tunes including "Helter Skelter" (later covered by U2) and "Revolution," among others.  And OF COURSE I had a Beatles-related cookbook at the ready so I could tie the whole thing together.  Our author, Stephen J. Spignesi, took (mostly) Beatles tunes (or singles performed by Beatles members or by Paul McCartney's band, Wings) and fashioned them into recipes.  What I loved was his inclusion of Beatles songs that fell through my musical filter such as "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" (drink)," "Mean Mr. Mustard" (Mean Mr. Mustard Dip), or "Sun King" (cake).  Don't know as I ever heard those songs. 

Then there were songs that informed my childhood (in no particular order):  "Yellow Submarine" (Yellow Submarine Sandwich); "Come Together" (Crumb Together – cherry crumb cake); "Get Back" (Rosetta's Roaster Red Pepper Spread) (BTW, the author mentioned that Rosetta is only mentioned in the Let It Be LP. Loretta (make that "Sweet Loretta") is mentioned in all other versions), and "Lovely Rita" (Lovely Pita). 

And just like picking a favorite Beatles' song (I'm not sure I can), selecting a recipe proved to be a challenge.  Many items sounded good, some were eliminated because there wasn't much to the recipe and others were bounced because they weren't really Beatles tunes.  Like oh, say, the recipe we ended up making:  "Give Peace a Chance" was written and performed by John Lennon.  But my husband, Andy, liked the recipe (and the song) and that decided things so there you go.

Interesting tidbit:  John Lennon, his son, Sean, and I all share the same birthday – October 9th.  Sadly, John Lennon was killed on December 8, 1980 the day before my brother's birthday on December 9th.  Somehow, this felt like a death in the family.  And unbelievably, instead of – like the Manson murders – being "inspired" by Beatles music, Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, was inspired by J.D. Salinger's seminal book, The Catcher in the Rye.  Chapman apparently wanted to model his life like the main character, Holden Caulfield.  And in another one of those creepy moments somewhat emulating the Mason murders, Chapman stayed on the scene reading The Catcher in the Rye until the police came.  Makes you realize that while the vast majority of us are inspired to do good things due to reading a book or listening to music, a few whackadoodles (my friend, Ann's term) go in a very scary direction.

It is somewhat sadly ironic, then, that Lennon's anti-war/anti-killing song, "Give Peace a Chance," was the basis for today's featured recipe, "Give (Pasta and) Peas a Chance.
This recipe was easy to make but I can't say as I'd make it again, at least not without modifications, specifically, nixing the canned peas.  It's not that I hate canned peas; on the contrary, I love them.  But canned peas are super sweet and super mushy and I thought they overpowered the rest of the ingredients.  I was "this close" to using frozen peas but since I always remain true to the ingredients listed, I stuck with them this time around.

I was also not fond of using garlic powder, preferring instead to use garlic cloves but again, the recipe said to use powder so I did.

And finally, pancetta instead of Canadian bacon might have added more zip and been more traditional (to an Italian recipe for spaghetti carbonara) but again, pancetta wasn't called for so it wasn't used.

So we "gave peas a chance" and it was satisfying but I think I could – and probably you can – do better the next time around. 

BTW, was this cosmic, or what?  I was just on my way home from the grocery store, picking up these ingredients, when my favorite radio station – The Current (89.3—and you can and also should stream it online – played Siouxsie and the Banshees' cover of the Beatles song "Dear Prudence."  Dear Prudence was also on the White Album.  Then this morning, The Current played The Beatles "I Saw Her Standing There" as well as "Paperback Writer."  And finally, one of the local magazines featured several local recording artists in a recent article, one of whom was Nicholas David, who some of you will remember from Season 3 of The Voice (he was one of the three finalists) in 2012.  But prior to his appearance on that show, I heard Nicholas sing The Beatles "Across the Universe" on The Current as part of a feature on artists who participated in the Minnesota Beatle Project.  Nicholas was on the very first year's (Vol. 1) album and I loved his cover of this song. 

So folks, you have a lot to do:  read the book - Helter Skelter - listen to the White Album, listen to a lot of other Beatles tunes, and check out the Minnesota Beatles Project.  Oh—and cook, naturally!

Give (Pasta and) Pease a Chance ("Give Peace a Chance") – serves 4
1 large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 slices Canadian bacon, cut up into bite-sized pieces (Ann's Note:  You might want to try pancetta)
1 14.9-ounce can of peas (retain water) (Ann's Note:  definitely try frozen peas, adding a little water to emulate the canned peas)
1 8-ounce can of peas (drain water) (Ann's Note:  use the same amount of frozen peas)
Garlic powder, salt, pepper and grated cheese to taste (Ann's Note:  Instead of garlic powder, mince a few garlic cloves and sauté along with the onion)
2 medium eggs, beaten
½ pound spaghetti (broken in half)

Sauté the onion in the olive oil in a covered skillet until it's soft.  Add the Canadian bacon to the pan and cook, uncovered, until bacon is tender.  Slowly add the 2 cans of peas, including the water from the larger can, to the onions and bacon.  In a small bowl, add salt, pepper, and grated cheese to taste to the 2 beaten eggs.  When the pea-and-onion mixture begins to boil, add the seasoned eggs to the skillet.  Add a dash of garlic powder to taste and cook this mixture for about 10 minutes.  While this is cooking, boil the spaghetti to al dente texture in a large deep pot.  Drain the spaghetti and add the peas-and-onion mixture to it.  Toss together and serve with more grated cheese and a green salad.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"McCall's Illustrated Dinner Party Cookbook" - Old-World Lasagna

Date I made this recipe:  October 5, 2014

McCall's Illustrated Dinner Party Cookbook by the Food Editors of McCall's
Published by:  The McCall Publishing Company
© 1961 (renewed annually through 1970)
Purchased at Bonnie Slotnick's Cookbooks, NYC – July 2014
Recipe:  Old-World Lasagna – p. 47

Folks, it's not often that I need a moment while perusing cookbooks at Bonnie Slotnick's Cookbooks in NYC, but this time around I had to sit a spell to take in a fabulous find:  McCall's Illustrated Dinner Party Cookbook.  Because the second I found it, I was transported back to my childhood.

You see, my mom was a faithful McCall's (magazine) subscriber, and over the years, she clipped many of their illustrated recipes from the magazine, saving them in her own, personal collection.  But right there, in one bound cookbook, were all those recipes including my favorite, Old-World Lasagna. 

When mom died, I took all her cookbooks and her recipe cards and her clippings, and when I went through them, there it was – the original clipping of the Old-World Lasagna in mint (i.e. spotless) condition.  My mother never seemed to put so much as a drip of anything on her recipe cards and recipe clippings whereas mine looked like something nasty exploded nearby.  These days, I photocopy the recipe from the book and use that copy in my kitchen and I still get slop all over it.  I may emulate my mother in many ways but her neatness in the kitchen in not one of them.

Anyway, the minute I spied the lasagna recipe, I knew what I was going to make from that cookbook but still, I took a moment to look through the entire book. The illustrations, of course, make the whole thing worthwhile.  In fact, the illustrations are what drew me back to that recipe time and time again. 

Besides the recipes, the other thing that made me love McCall's was the Betsy McCall cut-out paper dolls.  I loved Betsy McCall!  Each month, Betsy (of indeterminate age) was featured along with a couple of outfits that I'm pretty sure could probably be purchased at some department store somewhere in America. Betsy, of course, had the coolest clothing and she was usually decked out in something pertaining to the month, season or theme like October's trick or treat for UNICEF.  I so wanted the Christmas outfits from the December 1969 issue it was ridiculous.

So there you go—cooking and fashion all in one fell swoop.  Awesome.

Another reason I made this recipe was to wax nostalgic about my upcoming birthday on October 9th.  As is customary in many families, the birthday celebrant gets to pick the dinner meal for that day and I normally whittled it down to these:  my mother's meatloaf; scalloped potatoes and ham; mom's beef roast or lasagna.  Mind you, we enjoyed all of these on a regular rotation but I always thought they tasted better on my birthday!  In addition to the meal, my mom normally made an angel food cake, my favorite, with 7-Minute Frosting, also a favorite.  In the cake's center, she normally iced over a piece of cardboard cut to fit over the cake's opening and then placed a flower or two on top.  My favorites were always the big, Gerbera Daisies she picked from her garden (not to be confused with regular daisies which gave me a headache).  And with that my birthday celebration was complete!  (In addition, my mother could have walked straight out of McCall's magazine as she was always impeccably dressed so there's her fashion tie-in).

Regardless of whether or not it's somebody's birthday in your household, make this lasagna.  The sauce is close to what my mother made (except she didn't use pork in her sauce) and it provides great leftovers to be frozen for another day.  The only quibble I had with the recipe was the instruction to cook the sauce for three hours.  I cut it down to 1.5 and it was fine. 

So—there's my walk down nostalgia lane to quick off my birthday month.  Enjoy!

Old-World Lasagna – Makes 8 servings
For the tomato Sauce
¼ cup olive oil or salad oil (Ann's Note:  I used 1/8 and it was still a bit much)
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
½ lb ground chuck
¼ lb ground pork
1 can (2 lb, 3 oz) Italian tomatoes, undrained (Ann's Note:  I used 2 cans of diced tomatoes.  If you want to use whole tomatoes, I recommend putting them through a food mill to crush them, just like my mom used to do.)
2 cans (6-oz size) tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
(Ann's Note:  regarding salt and sugar, I am not big on salt so I put in about ½ tablespoon.  And when it comes to sugar, I like a tart tomato sauce and so I add it gradually until I get the flavor I'm looking for but that's just my style)
For the lasagna
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil
½ package (1-lb size) lasagna noodles
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 lb Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 jar (3 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

Make the tomato sauce:  slowly heat oil in large, deep, heavy skillet.  In hot oil, sauté onion, garlic, and parsley until onion is tender – about 5 minutes.  Add chuck and pork to skillet.  Sauté meat, stirring occasionally, until it is well browned.

Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to skillet; stir to mix well.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 3 hours.  (Ann's Note:  1 ½ hours should do the trick.)  Stir sauce occasionally during cooking.

Once the sauce is done, cook lasagna noodles as directed.  McCall's recommends bringing 3 quarts of water and the salt to boiling.  Then add the olive oil.  (Ann's Note:  I never add olive oil to my pasta water – ever.  Sure, it keeps the noodles from sticking but you can do that yourself once you drain them.)  Add lasagna noodles, 2 or 3 pieces at a time, to the boiling water; then return water to boiling.  Cook noodles, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (Ann's Note:  my box said cook for 10 minutes so I did.  Fifteen would have made them too mushy.)  Drain and rinse under hot water.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish.

To assemble lasagna:  Spoon a little of the tomato sauce evenly into bottom of prepared dish.  Over sauce, layer a third each of noodles, ricotta, sauce, Mozzarella, and Parmesan.  Repeat layering twice, beginning with noodles and ending with Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, 45 to 50 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the top is browned.

Let lasagna stand 10 to 15 minutes before cutting, to make serving easier.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy" - Candice Bergen's Tortellini Salad in honor of Muppet creator, Jim Henson

Date I made this recipe:  September 28, 2014 (to celebrate Jim Henson's Birthday)

(People Weekly Presents) In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy – written and published by:  Jim Henson™, Jim Henson Publishing; People Weekly, People Magazine; Time®Life Books, Time-Life Books
ISBN:  072440-10640-6; copyright 1996
Purchased at Succotash, a very cool retro store in St. Paul – 781 Raymond Ave
Recipe:  Candice Bergen's Tortellini Salad – p. 30

So.  Miss Piggy.  One of The Muppets.  One of The Muppets on the TV show, The Muppets, a show I never watched.  Oh, I was familiar with it to be sure, but that show premiered the year I graduated from high school so.... And I never watched Sesame Street, either, which is where Muppet creator, Jim Henson, got his start.  Miss Piggy's love interest, Kermit the Frog, was one of Henson's original Sesame Street characters.  Miss Piggy though, was only on The Muppets (as well as starring on the big screen in The Muppet movies). And so I don't have much to say about Sesame Street or The Muppets although I can wax nostalgic forever  and ever about how I feel about Captain Kangaroo, my childhood hero.  I especially loved Bunny Rabbit and now that I'm older, would really kill to wear Bunny Rabbit's glasses but alas, they don't look good on me.  Anyway...

Muppet creator/puppeteer, Jim Henson's birthday was September 24, and so in his honor, I cooked from In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy cookbook.  Poor Miss Piggy – she's forever mooning over Kermit the Frog, "Kermi," as she calls him, but her love is not returned.  As Kermit knows, "It's not easy being green," and it's not easy to be the object of Miss Piggy's affection but it is darned cute to watch. 

And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Miss Piggy should be tickled to know that many years ago, one of my friends dressed up as Miss Piggy for Halloween, right down to the (pig) nose, the ears and the gloves.  I believe she also added pearls as they were a Miss Piggy fashion statement at the time.  This cookbook contains several photos of Miss Piggy along with several tidbits of advice from "Moi," as Miss Piggy calls herself.

Since Miss Piggy is uber popular, all kinds of celebrities have appeared with her on The Muppets:  Whoopie Goldberg, Katie Couric, Brooke Shields, and so on and so on and many of them also contributed to this cookbook.  This made it difficult for "moi" to choose which one to make as I didn't want to leave anybody out; Miss Piggy wouldn't.  But alas folks, I needed to choose just one and so I did – eventually.

As I said in last week's blog, the weather at this time of year makes it especially challenging to find just the right fit.  In fact, I feel like Goldilocks and The Three Bears, trying to decide which one was "too hot, too cold or just right."

For the longest time, Whoopie Goldberg's Peas Porridge Hot, Peas Porridge Cold soup was in the running but then time sort of ran out on the fresh vegetable cycle so I back-burned that.  Then I was stuck on Glenn Close's Chicken, Mushroom, and Barley Stew, except by the time I got around to making it, it was too hot for soup.  Samuel L. Jackson's Spinach Linguine and Ground Turkey Sauce was in the running for a brief bit but again, was beat out by the weather and so long story, short – Candice Bergen's Tortellini Salad won out.  I don't know as I ever spent so much time debating about what to make and of course, by that time, Jim Henson's birthday had come and gone.  I wish him a heavenly belated birthday.

I can see why Miss Piggy included Candice Bergen in her cookbook as Candice is a great actress, just like our Miss Piggy.  Although Candice made a name for herself in movies, and more recently, as part of the cast of Boston Legal, I loved her in the TV show, Murphy Brown.

One of the running jokes of the show was that hard-hitting newswoman, Murphy Brown, was so hard to please that she went through about a secretary a day.  Wikipedia reported that 93 secretaries came and went during the run of the show. Many a (now) famous actor and actress was one of Murphy's casualties but I do recall that she liked actor Paul Reubens (a/k/a "Pee-wee" Herman) because he always called her "Miss Brown."  In one memorable scene, reporter Frank Fontana tried to take a doughnut "Pee Wee" brought for Murphy and "Pee-wee" chastised him by saying "Is your name Miss Brown?"  (Side note:  one of the companies I used to work for also had trouble finding a receptionist at the front desk, prompting me to joke that the receptionist du jour was just another Murphy Brown secretary.) 

Out of all the episodes in the series, the two that still make me chuckle are when Murphy was a bridesmaid in Corky Sherwood Forrest's wedding (Season 2, Episodes 48 and 49:  Going to the Chapel, Parts 1 and 2) (OMG, that bridesmaids dress!) and of course, the most-well known of all the Murphy Brown episodes, Season 4, episode 26 – Birth 101.  In one scene, we return to Murphy's hospital room where, while in labor, and if memory serves, she has Frank and Miles (Silverberg, her producer) by the throat and is banging their heads up and down on the hospital bed while yelling "You son of a bitch!" After she is done with her tirade, she releases them and they fall to the floor, probably grateful to have lived to breathe another breath.  Hilarious. Even today, I cannot stop laughing every time I think of that scene, and if you ask me, and you didn't, that goes in the Candice Bergen Hall of Fame. 

As to her recipe, it was good but were I to make it again, I'd want to make some adjustments.  Generally, you cannot go wrong by boiling some tortellini, nor can you go wrong with adding vegetables to them.  Where this recipe went slightly wonky though, was in the interpretation of the following:  "Grill or broil the bell peppers, zucchini, and onion until well browned and tender."  Okay, did that.  But my broiled vegetables in no way resembled the seemingly crisp ones featured in the photo that accompanied the recipe.  I wondered about that before I set out to make the dish and here's what I think:  I think not grilling or broiling the peppers will yield just as tasty of a result as grilling or broiling them.  In fact, I contemplated using fresh vegetables but in order to be true to the recipe, I followed her directions.  The result was not bad and in fact, I kind of liked my very tender, broiled veggies but that might just be me.

As to the vinaigrette, I liked it but felt that even a quarter of a cup of oil was a tad too much.  I recommend starting with one-eighth cup and see how that works for you.

All in all, this is a fun cookbook and a fun trip down memory lane for me with Candice Bergen.  "Moi" loves Candice Bergen.  Miss Piggy also loves Candice Bergen.  Many people love Miss Piggy AND Candice Bergen.  So there you go – enjoy!

Candice Bergen's Tortellini Salad – serves 4
1 small yellow or red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 small green bell pepper, halved and seeded
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise
½ small red onion, cut into thick rings
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
¼ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dillweed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of sugar
1 ½ cups dried cheese-filled tortellini (about 6 ounces)
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 scallions, finely chopped

Grill or broil (Ann's Note:  Or don't!) the bell peppers, zucchini and onion until well browned and tender.  Chop them into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, place the lemon juice and zest (if using) in a large salad bowl.  Whisk in the oil, mustard, dillweed, salt, pepper, and sugar to make the vinaigrette.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, or according to the package directions.

Drain the pasta and add it to the vinaigrette.  Add the grilled vegetables, tomatoes, and scallions.  Toss well to combine.  Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.