Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring Pasta Salad With Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli & Spinach

I have a love-hate relationship with pasta salads. So often they are just awful...think most Sunday Brunch buffets...cold, flavorless ingredients with gummy pasta and bad dressings. But, when made with fresh items and delicious, flavorful vinaigrettes they can be amazing.

This recipe is a perfect example. Sweet sun-dried tomatoes, tender broccoli, baby spinach and crisp red bell pepper tossed together with a tangy freshly made vinaigrette is wonderful on a spring evening. Add some cold poached chicken and dinner is served. I used a gluten-free pasta today, but it works with any type you like. Just do not overcook the noodles. You always want al-dente (to the tooth) in any pasta dish you make. Enjoy!

Spring Pasta Salad With Sundried Tomatoes, Broccoli & Spinach
(serves 6)

1 lb tubular pasta (any shape you like)
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup jarred sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained and sliced (reserve oil)
3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, divided

Bring a large pot of salted water to a high boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions ensuring you do not over cook noodles. Using a strainer, remove pasta and add to a colander. Rinse pasta in cold water, drain and add to a large bowl. Set aside.

Add broccoli to the still boiling pasta water and cook until crisp-tender. (4-5 minutes). Pour into the colander, rinse with cold water, drain and stir into the pasta bowl. Add sun-dried tomatoes, onions, bell pepper and garlic.
Toss with 3/4 of the vinaigrette. Chill for 1 hour.

Remove from the fridge, stir in spinach, 1/4 cup pine nuts and remaining vinaigrette. Taste and add sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with a drizzle of the reserved oil from the sundried tomatoes and the remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts sprinkled over the salad.

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place 2/3 cup olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, pepper flakes, and a large pinch each salt and pepper in a lidded mason jar. Shake until combined.

Springtime means the start of sensational side dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network we are celebrating Pasta SaladsDo you have a favorite pasta salad recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 


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