Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Summer is finally here, and it's time for pasta salads galore. I've really taken to salads lately, and I just love the heartier varieties- chickpea salads, potato salads, soba noodle salads and pasta salads. They are good potluck staples because they feed a crowd and are cheap to make. I also like salads because any leftovers make for a great lunch the following day.

Pasta salads are easy and flexible to make in that you can use ingredients depending on your preferences or already have on hand. Personally, I will always substitute out red peppers because my beau Jeremy just can't stand them. Some common ingredients include beans, cheeses, nuts, herbs, chicken, broccoli, carrots, baby corn, cucumbers, olives, onions, chick peas, peppers, and tomatoes.

This is one of my favorite recipes, thanks to a little inspiration from the bag of baby spinach in my fridge. Another one of my favorites is orzo, green bean and fennel salad with basil pesto. If you have a favorite pasta salad recipe, leave me a comment because I'd love to hear about it.

Pasta Salad (serves 4-6)

1 can corn
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups spinach
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1.5 cups pasta (penne, bowtie or fusilli)
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, toasted
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and pasta and cook until tender. Drain.

In the meantime, spread the corn kernels on a baking sheet and dry-roast in a 250 degree oven, for about 20 minutes.

Add drained pasta to a large bowl and add spinach, tomatoes, garlic, corn, toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts, feta cheese. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

1 comment:

thebaking_stone said...

I love pasta salad! Especially with marinated artichokes or cucumbers... but spinach sounds good too. Also, pesto pasta salad is a classic. If you like soba noodles, here is a recipe for a soba noodle salad that is a staple for me:

Spicy Cucumber Noodle Salad


8 ounces uncooked soba (buckwheat noodles)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1 cup diced English cucumber
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons white miso (soybean paste)
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 1/4 cups fresh bean sprouts

Cook soba in boiling water 2 minutes; add edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water. Drain; cool. Place soba mixture in a bowl. Add cucumber and onions.

Combine mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients (through oil); stir with a whisk. Pour over the soba mixture; toss well. Top with bean sprouts.