Everyday Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Life on the farm can sometimes feel like a marathon, an incredibly pleasant marathon, but I marathon none-the-less.  Several of my family members have cottages on the property and, since this place is considered to be party central, my social calendar is more active here in the boonies, than it is in the fast paced city.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Yesterday I was subjected to an afternoon of Caesars in the sun, followed by a lobster dinner!  This morning I woke up early to make pastry for a birthday brunch for my cousin, I’m told there’s an epic card game on the horizon and, of course, we must take advantage of high tide.

Fresh Veggies

My life is so hard!

It’s lovely visiting various branches of the family and staying this active, but I can’t help but feel slightly frazzled.  I don’t like to neglect my blog duties, but unfortunately the Internet up here is shoddy at best and my cell phone is currently about as useful as a paperweight.  It’s nice to throw off the shackles of the modern world, but it can be detrimental when you’re cyber life is so active. I’m not one to complain, I’m extremely happy to be here, but if I seem slightly distracted you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve made plans with eight different relatives today.

Feta

Somehow I managed to throw together this pasta salad together yesterday and I’m so glad I found the time.  It’s a bit of a fusion dish; vaguely Italian with Asian undertones.  I know it’s strange but, yes, the two can coexist.  Oh, and I guess the feta makes a little bit Greek, so this salad is a mutt, just like me.  Since Mutt Pasta Salad doesn’t have such a good ring to it, I feel Everyday Pasta Salad is just as fitting a title and a whole lot more appetizing.

Crumbled Feta

Pasta salad is among my favorite summertime dishes.  It’s easy to make, it improves after sitting over night, and it’s easily the most refreshing solution to even your most dire summertime food emergencies.

Pasta Salad

So, throw this together this weekend, just in time for the eight BBQs you agreed to attend.

Enjoy!

Everyday Pasta Salad: Serves 6-8

4 cups uncooked pasta

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

½ red onion, diced

1 cup feta, crumbled

1 cup heirloom tomatoes, halved

1/4 cucumber, diced

½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

4 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lime

4 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring six cups of water to a boil over medium high heat.

Salt the water and add the pasta.

Cook for 9-12 minutes until tender.

Drain and coat pasta with olive oil and garlic.

Set aside to cool.

When pasta is cool, place  it in a large bowl and add veggies, cheese and cilantro.

Add lime, ginger, and balsamic vinegar.  Toss to coat.

Chill until ready to serve.

Cheesy Mexican Penne

Cheesy Mexican Penne

A hefty bowl of Macaroni and Cheese may just be the quintessential comfort food. Equipped with the non-confrontational taste kids go for, it’s hard to argue with Macaroni and Cheese.  Like grilled cheese sandwiches, which I can’t seem to stop talking about lately, Macaroni and Cheese is very simplistic in its requirements. All this soothing dish entails is pasta, cheese, butter, milk, breadcrumbs and a few odds and ends. As with anything minimalistic, the room for embellishment is seemingly endless.

Red Pepper

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a big fan of macaroni. I prefer a larger, meatier piece of pasta. The three times my mother actually made Macaroni and Cheese for my siblings and I (my mother is a very health conscious lady and I think she found it difficult to put that much butter and cheese into a single dish) she used penne instead of macaroni and crushed saltines instead of breadcrumbs. To me this will always be Macaroni and Cheese, despite the absence of one of the dish’s headliners.

Jalapeno

Like the Mac and Cheese of my youth, this week’s recipe is mac-less. It may not look like a take on Macaroni and Cheese, but trust me it is. I took the predictable pasta dish and transformed into a creamy inferno called Cheesy Mexican Penne. I was hopelessly hungry while I was fixing this so I opted to keep it stove top and not bake it, but if you possess that virtue called patience, by all means pop it in the oven.

Diced Vegetables

This Cheesy Mexican Penne follows all the usual steps of it predecessor, but the addition of tomatoes, jalapenos, red pepper and onion lend a zesty complex flavor to the dish. A few heaping spoonfuls of habanero salsa ups the spice factor without over powering the velvety cheesy sauce.  This dish is endlessly satisfying and the picture of spicy decadence.

Cheddar Cheese

The perfect pick-me-up as the temperatures continue to drop, this Cheesy Mexican Penne will have you feeling like you’re south of the border.

Cheesy Mexican Penne

 

Cheesy Mexican Penne: Serves 6

450g dried penne

4 tbsp flour

4 tbsp butter

2 cups half and half

1 ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

¼ red onion, diced

½ red pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

1 Roma tomato, diced

1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp habanero salsa

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro

Directions:

Place a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Once boiling, salt the water liberally and add pasta.

Cook until al dente and drain and rinse the pasta and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk in flour to form a paste.

Slowly add half and half, whisking after each addition until sauce is creamy and smooth.

Season with salt and pepper and add cheese.

Stir mixture until the cheese is completely melted.

Reduce heat and add veggies, mustard and salsa.

Allow to cook for five minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.

Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

Pour sauce over waiting pasta and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.