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Pesto Pasta Salad

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A few weekends ago we went to my friend Jennifer’s wedding, Congrats Jen and Brian! At the cocktail hour we had a yummy pasta salad that was dressed in a pesto sauce but had sundried tomatoes and olives in it. Steve and I couldn’t remember what else was in it so I threw in some fresh mozzarella. This was a huge hit at our July 4th bbq. I had a feeling it would be because it was good enough to recreate! As usual when I’m making something for an event of some kind I forgot to take photos in a pretty dish so you guys will have to use your imaginations or just make the recipe and see it for yourself!

Pesto Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

1 pound farfalle pasta
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and sliced
1 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1 8oz. ball of fresh mozzarella, diced
Pesto sauce, see below for recipe (If you like, add some of the oil from the sundried tomatoes to the pesto in place of some of the extra virgin olive oil.)

Directions:

Cook pasta in boiled salted water and drain. Toss with some oil from the sundried tomatoes. (You can stop here and do this the day before or a few hours before and let cool.)

Toss pasta with pesto, sundried tomatoes, olives and mozzarella. Refrigerate and Serve cold.

Pesto Sauce:

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pinoli nuts
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (I always use Locatelli Romano)
½ tsp. salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and whirl until a thick uniform paste is formed, add more oil if paste is too thick. This amount is enough for 1 lb pasta. Pesto may be stored in refrigerator for several weeks or in the freezer for several months. Place in a jar or container and coat with a thin layer of olive oil, cover tightly.

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Roasted Veggie and Orzo Salad

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Last summer my friend Catherine and her hubby invited Steve and I over for a barbeque. Everything was fabulous but it was her orzo salad that I was thinking about for days. It was a mixture of perfectly roasted veggies, salty kalamata olives and pieces of soft and creamy fresh mozzarella. She doesn’t really have a recipe for it and she makes variations all the time. Any veggies or herbs can be used and I think you could even grill the veggies and then cut them up and mix them with the orzo. This recipe makes a ton so if you don’t like leftovers (although this is great leftover) cut this recipe in half.

This is what I did but feel free to mix it up any way you like.

Roasted Veggie Orzo Salad

Ingredients:

2 small zucchini, cut into approx 1 inch pieces
2 small yellow squash, cut into approx 1 inch pieces
1 bunch of thin asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into approx 1 inch pieces
1 package of mixed baby peppers, cut into approx 1 inch pieces
1 red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic left in their skins
1 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
1 carton of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 8 oz ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into bite sized pieces
1 pound of orzo
1 small bunch basil, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Distribute zucchini, squash, asparagus, peppers, onion and garlic between two baking pans. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes or until tender, tuning them when they are halfway through cooking.

3. Meanwhile, cook orzo in salted water, drain and put in a large bowl. Toss with oil to prevent sticking.

4. When veggies are cooked, let cool for a few minutes and remove garlic and set aside. Add cooled veggies to cooled but still warm orzo. Add olives, tomatoes and mozzarella.

5. In a small bowl squeeze garic from their skins, add a tsp of salt, some pepper and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Smash to form a paste adding more oil as needed. Add garlic paste and basil to veggie orzo mixture and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thanks Catherine for a great recipe!!!

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Pasta Salad and Kentucky Derby Party Menu

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This Saturday was the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Steve and I thought it would be fun to host a party this year. Neither of us have even been to the Derby and we aren’t into horse racing but it seemed like a fun excuse to have a party. I was excited about wearing a dress and big hat but with all my planning I ended up leaving it for the last minute. I wore a hat but it wasn’t the fancy one I envisioned. I skipped the dress due to the weather but it ended up being a beautiful day after all. We all had a great time, ate lots of food and had a lot of laughs. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Here’s my menu. I will be adding recipes here throughout the week so make sure you keep checking back!

Appetizers:

Mango Salsa
Rice Croquettes (previously posted)
Deviled Eggs
Guacamole (only store bought item)

Main Meal:

Bourbon Marinated Flank Steak Skewers
Teriyaki Chicken Skewers
Grilled Corn Salad
Pasta Salad
Baby Spinach Salad

Desserts:

Bourbon Balls (Made by Janet)
Coconut Macaroons (Made by Janet)
Assorted Cookies from Ferrara’s Bakery (Christine)

Everyone else brought assorted alcoholic beverages and we had plenty of beer, Smirnoff ice and of course, bourbon for Mint Juleps.

The Pasta Salad is always a big hit because it’s loaded up with veggies. This recipe isn’t exact because I add different things every time. This is basically what I use but anything could be swapped out. Sometimes I use bocconcini (marinated fresh mozzarella balls) instead of feta, different colored peppers, different types of olives. My friend Dana made one last week with provolone and salami and it was great. Use what you like and have fun with it.

Michele’s Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

2lbs rotini pasta or any other medium size pasta (farfalle, rotelle, cavatappi)
2 small jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 medium jar red roasted peppers, drained and chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
Approx 1 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
1 – 2 small bunch broccoli florets, boiled in salted water or steamed
1 small package grape tomatoes, halved
1 small container, crumbled feta cheese
1 small bunch basil, torn
Grated Romano cheese, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Italian Dressing (or I make my own dressing)

Directions:

Boil pasta in salted water, drain and rinse with cold water. Combine with all other ingredients. Toss with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder or your favorite Italian Dressing (I like Good Seasons). Add a little at a time and taste to adjust seasoning to taste.

This serves an army but leftovers are great the next day!

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