Farm Stand Pasta Salad
Lunch. What is it about this midday meal that stumps me? I am always coming up with new stuff for dinner and baking fresh goodies for breakfast. But outside of the standard pb&j, carrot sticks, and apple slices, I'm at a loss for fun, tasty, fast, and easy lunches. Lunches that I can keep in the fridge for a few days running and just scoop into a bowl or on a plate. Lunches that will easily go with us to the park or our homeschool activities so we aren't tempted with nasty and expensive fast food. Maybe even a lunch or two that I can make ahead of time or easily double for a family get together or potluck.
Well duh, I said to myself one day when pawing through my cabinet.......I have 10 boxes of pasta thanks to the BOGO special combined with a few coupons! Why not make a pasta salad? Not some sad excuse for a salad with a ton of pasta and few tiny, tasteless bits of carrot and swimming in a mayo or ranch (ew) based dressing. But a pasta salad full of fresh produce and lightly coated with a homemade lemon-garlic vinaigrette. You can make this great salad even healthier by using whole wheat pasta or quinoa, I LOVE it with quinoa.
Here is what I used....start with this, add your own ingredients, change it up however you want it. As usual, I didn't measure so amounts are approximations.
For the dressing:
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
assorted herbs, I used parsley, oregano, thyme, and rosemary
salt and pepper (the florida pepper blend from Penzey's is great)
a bit of honey dijon...a tablespoon or so
1/4 to 1/3 c. of extra virgin olive oil
Put everything except for the olive oil into a mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking the whole time, until you get a smooth, creamy dressing. Set aside while you make the salad. Whisk again right before adding to the salad.
Now for the salad:
1 box of whatever pasta you have on hand, I like corkscrews or bow ties
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 bunch of fresh broccoli florets, lightly blanched and drained
1 lb. fresh baby spinach, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
1 each red and green bell pepper, diced or cut into strips
4 carrots, shredded
1/4 lb. pepperoni from deli (thin), cut into strips
1 lb. cheddar cheese, cubed
a handful or two of feta
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, toss all of the veggies in a large bowl
When the pasta is finished cooking, put it under cold water until it is cool. Then toss with the fresh veggies. Pour the dressing over and toss until well-coated. The dressing is not going to be thick, there will be just enough to cover the salad. If you want more dressing you might want to double the recipe.
Use whatever veggies are available and at their best. During the summer fresh corn is wonderful, arugula is also excellent, even oranges and grapefruit are great in this salad.