March 31, 2014

My No-fuss Picnic Pasta Salad

'Hippie Hole' - Little River Canyon, Alabama swimming spot

Perfect Picnic Pasta Salad


It is that time of year when a lot of folks are getting outside, enjoying the nice weather and sunshine and are wanting to spend as much time as possible away from the 'holed up' effects from what has been a very drab and to many, a brutal winter. With the arrival of spring, many are heeding to the call: Summer is near. And with the beckoning of getting outside, the benefits of improving our health, physically and mentally, leads to happier times.

Staying outside for long periods often means transporting food for the day. This is a very easy recipe, one you can prepare the day before and assemble the morning of your travel plans. It is great for picnics, tailgate functions and home parties as well as just good eating.

Use what ever type of vinaigrette you desire according to other foods served but for my money, you can't beat the Chianti Vinaigrette.

My No-fuss Pasta Salad


12 oz package farfalle (bow-tie) or other medium pasta cooked al dente in salted water, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup of your favorite vinaigrette or Chianti Vinaigrette (see below)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
3 sliced firm plum tomatoes, optional
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms, optional
2 oz thinly sliced and chopped prosciutto or salami
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup freshly shredded semi-firm cheese like fresh Asiago, Bel Paese, Caciocavallo, Colby, Idiazabal, Jack or Provolone

Toss cold pasta with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette dressing. Transfer half of pasta to a storage container. Layer peas, tomatoes, mushrooms, and prosciutto on top of pasta. Top with remaining pasta. Sprinkle with basil and pour remaining dressing over salad. Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle salad with the cheese and toss right before serving.

Note: For traveling, I like to add the dressing only a few hours before serving and the cheese when plating.

Chianti Vinaigrette

makes 1 1/4 cups
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup Chianti wine
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
1/2 cup extra-light olive oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the vinegar, wine and seasonings together in a bowl. Quickly whisk in the oils. Store in a bottle or jar with tight fitting lid.
Always emulsify the oil with the other ingredients before using by shaking vigorously.
+Drick Perry 

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