02 April, 2011

Baking with Betty: Pasta Salad

This is the perfect dish to make for a potluck, picnic, Friday in Lent, lunch for the week, or with an Italian feast.  In true Italian fashion, the measurements are "a little of this" "to taste" "a handful" "eyeball it", but I'll do my best to include some measurements. It's a pasta salad, not rocket science - have fun - and get creative!


Ingredients:

  • 1 standard size box of bow ties (farfalle)
  • 1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 2.25oz can of sliced, pitted black olives
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, in pearls if you can find them or mini balls cut in quarters are fine. One package is perfect. Look for them in the "fancy cheese" section at the grocery.
  • A few leaves of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • A few tablespoons of Olive Oil (a flavored one, if desired)
  • Italian spices to taste*


Other ideas:  pepperoni, green or red bell peppers, carrots, left over grilled chicken, green olives, pine nuts, roasted garlic, etc


Directions:


  1. Boil water and cook pasta according to package until done.  Add a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil to boiling water to add flavor and to prevent the pasta from sticking when you drain it.
  2. While pasta is boiling wash, open, cut, prepare all other ingredients.
  3. Drain pasta.  Pour into a large bowl.
  4. Immediately add Italian seasoning, olives, tomates, basil and cheese.  Stir until well mixed. 
  5. Slowly drizzle olive oil while stirring.  
  6. Taste.  Add more seasoning, basil, and/or olive oil.  Be generous, but keep in mind the flavors become stronger as the dish marries.  You can always add more.
  7. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours, or until cold.  



Tips:

  1. When working with pasta dishes, adding the additional ingredients while the pasta is piping hot will help maximize and lock in flavors.
  2. Also delicious warm!  Enjoy some for dinner and then lunch the next day :)
  3. You can buy tiny cherry tomatoes and not have to cut them in half.  More flavor if you cut them open, though.
  4. * for the Italian Spices I usually use a pre-made blend for adding to olive oil for dipping bread into, but use any combination of salt, pepper, basil, oregano, garlic powder, rosemary, etc that you desire


Tastefully yours,

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