Monday, April 22, 2013

Perfect Pasta Salad


Right now I’m on a serious pasta salad kick. I love it. I eat it for lunch every day…then I come home and have it again for dinner. Every day, you say? Yes (well, mostly for the last week anyway). Why, might you ask? Because it’s delicious! Also because it’s super-duper easy to make, and it’s ideal for leftovers (you don’t even have to heat it up, for goodness’ sake!). Are you crazy, you might think? That is yet to be determined, BUT, in my defense, this is a much better kick than the strawberry cake kick I was on a few weeks ago, or the McDonald’s dipped cone kick before that, or the hummus and spicy pretzel kick before that – none of those were doing me any favors. I’m also on a grape kick, and a carrot/cucumber kick at the moment, but I don’t have any recipes for those. You may or may not have come to a conclusion about my sanity at this point, so I will move on.

This recipe is pretty simple – the only thing you have to cook is the pasta! (are you on board with me yet?) I use a mix of fresh veggies and some favorite preserved items, like kalamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts. The thing I love is that it’s really adaptable for your taste preferences; and there’s nothing better than coming home and NOT having to cook dinner because it’s already waiting in the fridge.


Getting Started



First thing is first, get your pasta water going! While you are waiting for the water to boil, this is the perfect time to cut up your veggies. I usually dice the bell peppers and onions pretty small, since they can be more potent in their raw form. A little goes a long way! Also keep in mind that the flavors will be stronger on day two, which is really the best time to eat it, and you don’t want the onion to overpower the dish. I can never wait to eat it, so I won’t judge you if you do the same, but it will taste much better after all the flavors have had time to mingle and sink into the pasta.


Once boiling, salt the water and add your pasta; cook according to package directions for al dente. Once the pasta is cooked, drain the hot water, then add in cold water and ice to cool it down. Once it has had time to cool, drain again and add it to the rest of your ingredients, minus the feta. If you have a hard time getting the ice out (sometimes not all of it melts), just add water and give the pasta a stir – the ice will float right to the top so you can scoop it out.


Mix the ingredients thoroughly, then cover and place in the fridge. Overnight is ideal, but I would give it at least a couple of hours to mingle before serving. When you are ready to serve, add the desired amount of feta – don’t forgetta the feta!!


Wrapping it Up



And that’s it! That’s all there is to it. This is perfect for get-togethers, pot lucks, or lunches throughout the week. The kalamata olives and feta (two classic Scattered Cook ingredients) give it a little tang, while the cucumber and bell peppers add some crunch. I’m totally biased, but I think it’s fantastic.

I hope you do too!



Ingredients

16oz package of medium shell pasta
3 medium cucumbers, diced
½ package grape tomatoes, cut into halves (10.5oz)
¼ small red onion, finely chopped
½ small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
½ container of marinated artichoke hearts (10.5oz)
2 large spoonful’s of halved kalamata olives
½ cup three-cheese Italian dressing (use one you really like)
Feta cheese to taste

Servings: Makes approximately 10, 1-cup servings.

 


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