Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Pasta Salad

Summer Pasta Salad
What better way to round out a Memorial Day barbecue than with a crisp, healthy pasta salad? I made a massive batch of this stuff for two different parties this weekend and it was a hit both times. I was inspired by Food Network Magazine's "Create Your Own Pasta Salad" segment. I opted to omit the protein in honor of Meatless Monday, an international movement encouraging people everywhere to cut out meat one day a week for their personal and a more sustainable planet. A perfect reason to double up on veggies. The version of creamy herb dressing in the magazine had a little too much mayo for my taste so I doctored it up a bit, but it compliments the crunchy veggies and sweet sun-dried tomatoes perfectly. This pasta salad is a refreshing take on a normally drab and boring side dish.

1 pound pasta (I used rotini)
2 cups diced red bell pepper
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen)
2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Creamy Herb Dressing
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped rosemary
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the creamy herb dressing, mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add a small handful of salt and cook the pasta to al dente (slightly firm) as directed on the package. While the pasta is cooking, chop the bell peppers, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes and set aside. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, place back into the pot with a little bit of olive oil. Add the corn, bell peppers and sun-dried tomatoes to the pasta and stir. In a smaller pot bring two inches of water two a boil and cook the asparagus pieces for two minutes. Once cooked, quickly shock the asparagus in a bowl of ice water to keep the vibrant green color. Drain the asparagus and place in the pot with the rest of the pasta mixture. Finally, add the creamy herb dressing that has been chilling in the fridge and mix thoroughly. Taste to see if the salad needs any more salt, season to taste, and enjoy!

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