Thursday, June 9, 2016

Springtime Pasta Salad


The weather is warming up, we are grilling outdoors more and I'm in the mood for summer.

Summer is "salad season".  Actually every season is salad season for those people trying to eat healthy.  I try, I really try. Fresh foods are our daily goal and we've been doing a great job of cutting out the processed foods.  Yea!

Summer reminds me of farmers markets with their abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.  So this does spur me on to eat a lot more light and fresh salads.  

A sub-category of salads is Pasta Salads.  Hurray for pasta! I really like my pasta salads.  You can use all types of different pasta shapes and then you can customize what goes in it! Make a theme of it....are you feeling Greek today? How about a Greek pasta salad.  Or maybe you feel a little Mediterranean or even straight up American.  You can tailor a pasta salad by the veggie or ingredients you use to fit your theme.

Today, I'm feel Springy.  Fresh and light.  So I created a Springtime Pasta Salad loaded with asparagus, artichoke hearts and more.  It is the perfect as a side dish to a picnic, BBQ, or pot-luck.  

It's made with a vinaigrette so it keeps really well, and since there is "no mayo" you don't have to worry about the temperature.  

The 4th of July is coming up soon....keep this in mind.


Springtime Pasta Salad

1/2 lb tri-color rotini pasta

1/2 bunch of asparagus
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 c cherry tomatoes halved or quartered if large
1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 c feta cheese, crumbled (more for sprinkling)
1/2 package dry, Italian-style salad dressing mix
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper 

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Cook al dente. During the last 1 minute of cooking add the asparagus to the water with the pasta. Allow to cook 1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Drain pasta. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Cut asparagus in 1 inch pieces and add to a large bowl.

Add red and orange bell peppers, tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts and feta cheese to the bowl. Add cooled pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the dried salad dressing mix and cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

In a small mason jar add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Shake to combine. Set aside.

When ready to serve toss the pasta salad with enough dressing to coat well. Transfer to a serving dish and serve.

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