Monday, September 7, 2009

pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked cheese

Based on a recipe from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta by Marie Simmons.

This amount is for a large group or plenty of leftovers - can easily halve it.

1 pound pasta, cooked until al dente (tubetti, rotini, shells - whatever small shape you like; I used elbows yesterday). After you cook it, drain it well in a colander and cool running water. Put back in the pan, toss in a few good gollops of olive oil, and let it cool and forget about it while you're doing other things.

Combine together:
fresh ripe tomatoes (I used two largish Creole tomatoes - could have used another)
sundried tomatoes (I probably used 1/2 c of packed in oil sort, chopped finely)
1 T red wine vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have around, though I'd avoid balsamic because it would color the salad unattractively)
garlic, crushed (I used about 7 small cloves because it seems I never get enough out of the crusher)
salt and pepper
pinch (or two) dried oregano

Then add to tomatoes:
8 oz smoked gouda (my fave, though any kind of smoked cheese with substance is good)
chopped fresh basil (I used what I had - about 15 leaves)

Mix well, then add in the cooled pasta and toss to blend. Chill until time to eat (though I like to take it out a bit before, so it's not fully chilled - being a bit warmer makes the flavors richer).

So this allows some variation as well. I had some beet greens to eat but not many, and I was craving this salad & had smoked mozzarella in the freezer.

So, I sauted five cloves minced garlic with the chopped beet greens and about 2/3 can diced tomatoes until the greens were softened. I tossed that into the mix (omitted the crushed garlic & chopped fresh tomato) and yum!

I like beet greens for their light beety taste, but that didn't come through at all because of the melding of all the other strong flavors - it was more like spinach, a green to go with others.

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