Julie & Julia & An Easy Pasta Salad Surprise

Before heading to see Julia & Julia last night, Steve and Lara popped over for a quick nosh, since we'd been rightfully warned not to see the film on an empty stomach. I needed something quick and cool, so I decided to throw together an easy pasta salad. With a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, zucchini from the farmers market, and green peppercorns from the Thai grocery to add a little surprise flavor, all I had to do was boil the pasta to create a refreshing summer one-dish meal. I think it's actually perfect for a pot-luck or picnic, and without the chicken, it could be a wonderful side dish, too.

It's probably not something Julia would have made--it ended up being a sort of Thailand meets Italy concoction--but it at least got us through the movie without too many problems (though we did go to Billy's Bakery afterward...what can you do?).

BTW: Julie & Julia is definitely worth a trip to the theater. Meryl Streep is, as usual, mind-blowing, and (to steal from Steve) all one needs to say about her onscreen partner is "Stanley fucking Tucci." Brilliant. Jane Lynch is hysterical as Julia's sister, and it's absolutely wonderful to watch everyone in the Julia Child portion have so much fun--it must have been a joy to go to work every day.

But the film is, unfortunately, lopsided. The dual-story aspect of Julie & Julia is merely kind of OK, and it's obvious that much more care was taken with the writing and shooting of the Julia bits (in spite of too many shots exposing Meryl's lift shoes and an out-of-era bubble envelope that kind of blew the last scene for me). Why didn't they just make a Julia Child biopic? Doesn't a woman who changed America's culinary history deserve it? Regardless, Amy Adams as Julie Powell and Chris Messina as her husband do a great job, and at least the basic underpinnings of the importance of Julie Powell's story in 2002 are there.

So--in the end--the concept and execution of the movie has flaws, but it basically works well enough. If you love good food, a good laugh, and good acting, go see it.

Easy Pasta Salad Surprise
• 1/2 to 3/4 pound dried fusilli pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled (use more or less pasta, depending on how far you'd like to stretch the dish)
• 1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded
• 1 medium-sized zucchini, julienned
• 2 tablespoons green peppercorns (either from a Thai or French grocery)
• zest and juice of 1 lime
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• salt to taste

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package's directions, then cool under a cold tap. Add to a large bowl, along with the other ingredients, and toss. Serve cold.

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