Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pasta Salad with Lemony Basil Vinaigrette

When I started this blog, I had every intention to post weekly; unfortunately, it seems I'm spending more time working than I had planned when I started writing this past summer.  Most recently, I got called to Charlotte, NC for a week - and while I love getting to travel and meet my coworkers from other offices, at the end of the week I'm always craving something that I didn't order from a restaurant.

This pasta salad came together on a whim while I was shopping this weekend - first, I spotted a box of whole wheat rotini, then a few delectable black olives from the olive bar, some of spring's first asparagus, tiny radishes, a little onion, and a bell pepper.  Throw in some salami and parmesan, and toss it with a lemony basil vinaigrette - and voila, there's lunch for the week. Side note: You may have noticed I'm a huge bell pepper eater.  It's always in my fridge and inevitably ends up in most of my dishes.  Feel free to omit it or make substitutions if you don't have the same attachment to it that I do.

Pasta Salad with Lemony Basil Vinaigrette
Makes 8-12 servings

1 box whole wheat pasta (rotini, penne, or medium shells would all work well)
1/4 lb. thin asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1" long pieces
1/4 c. black olives, pitted and chopped
2-3 small radishes, quartered and sliced thinly
1/4 c. sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1" long strips (or substitute roasted red peppers)
4 slices of salami, slice about 1/8" thick
1/4 c. shaved parmesan, plus additional for garnishing

1/4 t. dijon mustard
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 T. dried basil
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. honey

 Cook pasta according to the package directions; during the last 30 seconds of cooking time add asparagus.  Drain pasta and asparagus and rinse with cold water until well chilled.  Add other vegetables and salami.  In a small bowl, make dressing:  combine dijon mustard and lemon juice, and slowly whisk in olive oil until combined.  Whisk in garlic, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and honey.  Pour over pasta mixture and stir well.  Fold in parmesan.

Serve slightly chilled with extra shaved parmesan for topping.

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