Thursday, August 25, 2011

My New Favorite Pasta Salad

A couple of weeks ago my husband's sister came to visit with her husband and our adorable 10-month-old niece. Of course, it is my nature to plan meals for company. On the night of their arrival, we planned for a low-key cookout. However, I wanted to provide some out-of-this-world side dishes to accompany the burgers and brats we prepared on the grill. I already know that they are fans of my go-to Rotini Salad, but I was on the lookout for something new. Enter Elizabeth's Edible Experience. Elizabeth always posts recipes on her blog that make my mouth water. This recipe for Tomato Feta Pasta Salad, which she adapted from an Ina Garten recipe for her book club, was no exception. In the way that recipes often evolve, I tweaked this recipe a bit to my own tastes. The result was amazing. I still love my rotini salad, but this new recipe "takes the cake" since I was in the mood for something a little different.

I began this recipe by adding cooked rotini pasta to a big serving bowl with tomatoes and chopped cucumber that I had picked from my garden. Also in there are sun-dried tomatoes. Elizabeth's recipe called for sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. I buy mine in bulk from the produce section of a local family-owned market. They are not packed in oil, therefore so much cheaper than the ones in jars! I just snipped them into pieces with kitchen scissors, added them to the bottom of the bowl and drizzled a little olive oil over them while the pasta boiled.

Since I was missing some of the components of this salad, I went ahead and made the dressing before heading to the store to gather those last few ingredients. I combined the ingredients for the dressing: more sun-dried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and flat-leaf parsley in the blending cup for my immersion blender.

My Cuisinart CSB-76BC SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Brushed Chromemade super quick work of combining the dressing ingredients. Of course, if you don't have an immersion blender, you could just blend this in a regular blender or use a whisk for a chunkier dressing.

The resulting dressing was super thick and oh-so-flavorful!

I poured the dressing over the salad and stirred it in.

Then later, (after a trip to the store) I added in the feta, Parmesan, and sliced black olives.

Here it is, all mixed together in the bowl.

This salad was super yummy! However, once I added in all of that cheese it really soaked up the dressing. I think that the next time I make this I will increase the dressing amount by 1-1/2 to 2 X's. I like my pasta salad just a little more on the creamy side. And like I said, the dressing is delicious. You can't possibly go wrong by adding more.

I love how the cheese and dressing cling to the pasta and find their way in between each little spiral. Plus packed with all of those other lovely ingredients, this pasta salad ROCKED!

Tomato Feta Pasta Salad from Elizabeth's Edible Experience adapted from Ina Garten and adapted again by me

1 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 ripe roma tomatoes, medium-diced
2 firm cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 small can of sliced black olives
10 oz. pound good feta cheese
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

For the Dressing:

5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Stir in:

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper with a whisk, blender, or immersion blender. Pour the dressing over the salad. Sprinkle with the parmesan and toss well.

Notes: Next time I will increase the dressing amount by 1-1/2 to 2 X's.

We called this salad a big GPS. Translation: Big. Greek. Pasta. Salad. With the flavors of the feta, cucumber, and olives, this salad boasts a decidedly Greek flavor.

Looking ahead to your Labor Day cookout menu...this would be an excellent addition to the line-up! Enjoy!


Julie said...

Sounds completely wonderful!

Unknown said...

Love your recipes! Must try this one. Hugs!

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