Sunday, July 17, 2011

Less Cooking, More Chopping: Pasta Salad with Asparagus, Feta and Kalamata Olives

100° F for the last 2 months, next 2 months.  This won't keep me from cooking, but it will lessen my use of oven, stove and (due to drought conditions) grill. It's a good time to take advantage of seasonal produce from your local farmers' markets, and though some of it requires cooking, you can often get away with a quick blanch or saute job and have a fully functional meal with minimal cooking. In this case, your total cook time is under 15 minutes and on the stove top.

1/2 lb pasta (fusilli, bowtie, rotini, etc.) cooked according to package
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced (if large tomatoes aren't great, yet, use halved grape or cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
Top halves from 1 lb. asparagus, coarsely chopped, blanched or steamed for 3-5 minutes
1-2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup red wine and/or balsamic vinegar (I usually combine, about half and half)
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbs yellow or brown mustard

Drain cooked pasta in a colander and put it in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and stir it a bit to cool, maybe 5 minutes. Add veggies and stir to coat. Refrigerate for an hour, then add feta and mix. Salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Taste before adding salt, as the olives and feta add quite a bit.

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