Thursday, September 10, 2009

Spinach Tomato Pasta Salad

Sorry for my lack of posts as of late. I've been in the process of switching jobs which is always super stressful and to add to my stress level, I was invited to my new company's picnic where everyone was asked to bring a side dish! I had to knock it outta the park and not show up up with store-bought gloppy pasta salad. You know the ones - laden with mayo and very little else? Well, this pasta salad was a hit and has loads of flavor.

Spinach Tomato Pasta Salad

1 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta - I used a whole wheat variety
Kosher salt
Good olive oil
1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, cut if larger
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound good feta cheese (medium-diced or crumbled if that's easier but I like cubed)
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I ground the parm in the food processor which gives it nice texture versus grating)
1 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped or chopped basil if you prefer
1 bag baby spinach (pre-cleaned)

For the dressing:
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons good olive oil (more if needed but I worried it would be too oily)
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes. DO NOT ADD SPINACH YET!

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley, and toss well. When ready to serve, mix in fresh spinach and serve.

If you want to be fancy - lay spinach at the bottom of your serving tray or bowl (like a bed) then spoon pasta salad over that and then add the cubed feta on top. Very pretty presentation!

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