Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Olives and Feta
Pastabilities: 10 Things That Make Me Go Hmmm…. and 1 Thing That Will Make You Go Mmmmm.
I think about some weird things sometimes. What can I say? Just a few questions and observations that taunt my brain. Here’s what’s been making me scratch my head as of late.
- Ever wonder why there’s a light on vacuum cleaners? Seriously! First of all, what idiot vacuums in the dark? Think about it. The only purpose that I think it could possibly serve is to show you how filthy your house is in the all the places where the vacuum can’t fit, which leaves you (me) obsessing about the Valley of the Hidden Dirt, brought to you by Hoover. Or, in my case, Oreck.
- Parking aids are a mighty dangerous thing. Especially when you get real used to having that little helping beep, beep, beep go off when you’re about to crash into something behind you and then you have to slam on your brakes at the last minute before realizing that you are driving your other car that doesn’t have that lovely built-in safety feature. Not that I would know.
- We may not want to fess up to this, but we all have an SSB. Secret Silly Behavior. You know, things we do when we’re alone that we’d probably not want our significant other to witness because they might think we’re strange. Oh, let’s say, like trying to bust a move Will Smith-style and get jiggy with it in your living room while listening to some rockin’ tune and failing miserably at it.
- Why is there always just one shoe on the side of the road? What happened to its mate? Is that considered a trial separation or an actual divorce? What was it thinking? Now’s my chance for me to split! Probably left because the Ex kept leaving socks on the floor.
- Light bulbs. Their open-ended packaging. Hello? Someone want to explain this to me?
- If anyone knows the difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny, please let me know. Thanks.
- Ever notice that people never say, “Oh, it’s only a game!” when they’re winning?
- Is there ever a day when mattresses are not on sale?
- What was the best thing before sliced bread? Anyone? Bueller?
I love pasta salad. Especially in the summer. It’s perfect hot weather fare, totally portable, which makes for great picnic/potluck/family reunion/what-can-I-bring-to-the-barbecue fodder for a crowd. This one is creamy, yet light, thanks to a bright and lemony vinaigrette and packed with tons of veggies. Plus, it meets my entertaining guidelines: it looks as good as it tastes and it can be made in advance. And, it’s so very versatile. Add or subtract whatever veggies/protein add-ins that float your boat. The “patasbilities” are endless!
- For the salad:
- one 14.5-ounce box pasta (penne, macaroni, small shells, fusilli or ziti)
- 4 cups optional add-ins, coarsely chopped: black olives, red onion, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, scallions, pepperoncini, pitted kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes
- 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- For the vinaigrette:
- ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 large shallot, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions until just tender. Drain and rinse under cool water.
- Place the pasta in a large bowl; top with your choice of add-ins and the feta and toss.
- Make the dressing: In a jar, combine all vinaigrette ingredients through olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper; screw on the lid and vigorously shake the jar until combined and emulsified. Add as much of the vinaigrette as you wish (I use it all) to the pasta salad and toss well. Refrigerate for an hour or two to let the flavors meld before serving.
Planning: Feel free to add more of any ingredient you like. Cooked, shredded chicken or roasted shrimp make nice add-ins for a heartier meal.
Product Purity: I’m a big fan of Barilla’s Plus line of Multigrain pastas and Boar’s Head crumbled feta. Yum.
Presentation: Chinese take-out boxes are a fun way to transport and serve the pasta. Look for sturdy ones (online and at some crafts stores) that can stand up to the salad.
© 2012 Hutchstone, LLC. All rights reserved.
Content and photography © 2012 Hutchstone, LLC