Do you sometimes find yourself enjoying particular dishes/foods you previously thought you didn’t like? I as though I’ve been going through that quite a bit lately. Pasta salad is one of those items in particular.
To be fair: I’m still not interested in pasta salads that involve mayonnaise. But I’ve been thoroughly won over (and slightly obsessed) with pasta salads topped with vinaigrette. They are lighter in taste…and on the waist. I could eat the tomato, basil, and mozzarella pasta salad I previously shared pretty much every day in the summer.
But…it was time to create something new. Hodgson Mill was kind enough to send me a pack of their whole wheat pastas to sample…and to create a pasta salad recipe as part of their Summer Pastabilities contest. Twist my arm. The first thing that came to my mind was goat cheese. It had to have goat cheese. Everything is better with goat cheese. The rest of the simple and healthy ingredients fell into place after that.
I made this pasta salad on Tuesday, and the entire batch is almost gone as of this morning. I consider that a success, at least! The asparagus adds a tender crisp texture, the roasted red peppers add sweetness, the goat cheese adds creaminess and tang, and the vinaigrette packs a wallop of herb goodness. I have a bit of the vinaigrette left over (the recipe makes slightly more than you’ll need for this pasta salad), and I have a feeling it will be topping my green salad for lunch today. As it stands, the recipe doesn’t involve any meat…but I did happen to crisp up a few slices of bacon and crumbled them into some of the salad as a taste test: I give it a thumbs up if you’re looking for an added ingredient. Turkey bacon would also be great if you’re looking for a lighter option. But I think the pasta salad is perfect just the way it stands!
I also wanted to mention the pasta itself. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the whole wheat pasta from Hodgson Mill. I’ve tasted other whole wheat pastas in the past, and they just didn’t compare in taste and texture to the classic. In most cases, Justin would wrinkle his nose and say he’d prefer the “regular” pasta (do you like how I’m blaming him here?). With this pasta? Not a single complaint…just second helpings.
And guess what! The folks at Hodgson Mill have also been kind enough to offer up a prize pack for one of my readers – it’s a $25 value…that’s a lot of pasta! Make sure to enter with the Rafflecopter widget below. If you’re confused on how to use Rafflecopter, here’s a quick video tutorial! Good luck everyone!
***Eligible for entrants with US mailing addresses only***
Asparagus and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad
1 12oz box of pasta (I used Hodgson Mills’ whole wheat medium shells)
1 lb fresh asparagus spears
1 12oz jar roasted red peppers, diced (or 2 fresh red peppers, roasted and diced)
1/2 red onion, diced
8 tbsp white balsamic basil vinaigrette (recipe below)
3.5 oz container goat cheese crumbles
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Thoroughly wash asparagus spears. Snap the tough bottom of each spear off (much like a green bean: bend the spear and it will break naturally at the correct spot). Cut the asparagus spears into sticks about 1 inch long and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta noodles according to package instructions. About 3 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking, add the asparagus spears to the pot with the noodles. This will allow them to cook to a tender crisp texture. Drain the pasta and asparagus together, then rinse them with cold water. Set aside to cool completely.
3. When pasta and asparagus are cool, add them to a large bowl or serving dish. Add diced red onion, roasted red peppers, and the vinaigrette. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
4. Refrigerate pasta salad for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to mix. When you are ready to serve, gently stir in the goat cheese crumbles. Enjoy!
White Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
1. Add white balsamic, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper to a food processor/blender. Pulse until mixture is almost smooth – it will be a bright green color.
2. Slowly drizzle the extra virgin olive oil into the processor and continue pulsing/blending until fully incorporated.
3. Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to one week.
***Disclosure: Hodgson Mill provided pasta for me to create this recipe, and is providing the prize pack as a giveaway. Recipe, photos, and opinions are 100% my own***