Saturday, September 17, 2011

Copy Cat: Pasta Salad

Teachers copy. There I said it. Not in the same way that a student might copy on a test (heaven forbid!), but we do use each others' ideas. It's how good teachers become great teachers. I like to take this principle to lunch time. I will scan the table and look for yummy meals that other teachers bring and either ask for the recipe or google until I find something similar. I noticed that a few weeks ago, several teaches had different versions of pasta salad, so I googled until I found something that looked good. This is a fairly quick recipes, makes quite a bit of food and its "leftovers" are delish!



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For the Salad Dressing:

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash Garlic flavored (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, finely minced (or 1/8 tsp. dried)
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

For the Salad:

8 oz. (1/2 lb) pasta, cooked
3 cups assorted vegetables
1/2 cup chopped red or sweet Vidalia onions
1/4 cup green onions, minced (optional)
1 red pepper, finely chopped (or use roasted red peppers)
vegetables of your choice

*I marinated some chicken breasts in Italian dressing and cooked them on the stove. I cut them into bite sized pieces and mixed into the salad at the end.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Using colorful pasta and vegetables makes for an especially attractive salad.

Mix garlic and herbs, cheese, black pepper and whisk ingredients for dressing together (or process in a blender/food processor until smooth).

Remove the pasta from the cooking water using a large mesh or straining spoon. Do not discard the water.

In a large bowl, pour the dressing over the cooked and drained pasta while still hot.

Fresh or frozen, raw or cooked vegetables (or any combination) may be added. Broccoli, carrots, corn, baby corn, peas, green beans, onions, cherry tomato halves and marinated artichoke quarters are all good candidates for inclusion in a pasta salad.

Blanch the prepared vegetables in the pasta water. This can be done by putting the vegetables in a steamer or a large mesh spoon or sieve and holding it under the steaming hot (not boiling) pasta water for 1 or 2 minutes, depending upon the size of the vegetables. Alternatively, if you're using mixed frozen vegetables, they may be microwaved. Do not overcook the vegetables - they should be brightly colored and still crisp. Dehydrated vegetable mixtures also contribute extra color when rehydrated in the pasta water.

Add the vegetables to the pasta salad and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. More salt, pepper, herbs and cheese may be added, or a little lemon zest or juice, or even a pinch of granulated garlic.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! We have both sets of parents in this weekend and are looking forward to spending some quality time with them! The girls are heading into town today to see Paula Deen! SO excited!!

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