Anything Pasta Salad

Posted by on Nov 15, 2012 in Food Journal, Sides

Anything Pasta Salad

Anything Pasta Salad (Recipe and instructions follow) – I have been making this pasta salad this way for a number of years, but it didn’t start out as an exact science :D. Pasta salad to me in the past was more like clean out the refrigerator and cabinet salad, but not in a gross way. You see, I often shop at Sprout’s farmers market (maybe you’ve been there). Anyway, they sell stuff in loose bulk bins like nuts, dried fruit, candy, chocolate, granola, trail mix, rice, beans, lots of different flours and sugars. Dry goods, you get the idea. So, I always find myself in the loose bulk isle thinking mmmmm, what can I put that in. Then I end up with all these little bags of random foods. I get home and play in the kitchen making everything from cookies to bread to main dishes and pretty much anything in between. So, I always have this cabinet full of fun ingredients to add to whatever I feel like, including my pasta salad of course. OK, anyway, one day I was making pasta salad and decided to open my cabinet and see what would make it a little different then usual. I can’t really remember exactly what I put in it that day, but I can say that I started opening my special cabinet from then on to make my pasta salad, and one day, I found the perfect combination that I had been looking for. That day, Anything Pasta Salad was born. I’m going to give you the recipe the way I have come to love it, but I’d also like to encourage you to try other ingredients in it. I’ll give you a list of the things that I still sometimes add. Also, I serve this chilled and it’s super awesome for picnics and potlucks and that sort of thing. It also makes a nice side for burgers or grilled chicken. If you happen to have left over chicken (grilled or roasted or whatever), you can add that in also to make your pasta salad a full meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 pound Rotini Pasta (I use whole wheat) Pasta Salad
iodized salt (for the noodle water)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 Granny Smith Apple, small dice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tomato, I prefer Heirloom, seeds removed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
fresh basil, I add about ten large leaves, cut chiffonade (that means into “little ribbons”)
Juice of 1 lemon (2 Tablespoons or so)

Awesome extras to try that I sometimes put in.
Feel free to substitute or change ingredients – that’s why it’s Anything Pasta Salad.
walnuts, cherries, dried cherries, grapes, red onion, chives, feta, pecans, almonds, dried cranberries etc…..



Instructions
1. Add your pasta to well salted, rapidly boiling water. I use an eight quart pot with about 1/4 cup of Iodized salt. See my salt article for an explanation on properly salting your water.
2. Stir your noodles for the first ten seconds or so after you add them into the water. This helps prevent them from sticking together. Cook the noodles until they are “al dente”. This literally means “to the tooth”. You don’t want them to be squishy, they should be soft on the outside and still have a little firmness in the middle. This takes about eight minutes.
3. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it and either put it in an ice bath, or run cold water over it until it is cooled. This stops the cooking process. If you let you noodles sit there hot. They will continue to cook and get squishy. That is one of the big things that you learn in Culinary School – control your cooking. That means that you only let stuff cook when you want it to and you stop the cooking when you don’t want it to.
4. After cooling and draining your pasta, place it in a large bowl.
5. Add the olive oil. Stir the pasta to coat it in the oil. The 1/4 cup should coat it well, but if it seems like it needs a little bit more, you can add a little more one teaspoon at a time until the pasta is coated.
6. Add all of the other ingredients (except the lemon juice) in order and stir your pasta salad to combine everything. Just as a side note, if you’re using iodized or table salt instead of Kosher salt, start with only 3/4 of a teaspoon and taste it. Then decide if you need more salt or not. Remember, you can always add more salt, but you can’t really take it out once it’s in there.
7. Add the lemon juice to the pasta salad and stir it up well.
8. Let the pasta salad stand for at least two or three hours before you serve it. Overnight is even better. This gives all of the flavors time to develop.
9. Garnish the pasta salad if you want, I garnished mine with purple basil leaves. Enjoy!


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