If anyone knows me they know about my love for cold pasta salad. You can guarantee if I am bringing something to a summer party it will most likely be a bathtub size bowl of pasta salad. That being said, not all pasta salads are created equal. If your 'homemade' pasta salad includes a bottled Italian dressing you are a two-bit hack who should be sentenced to a walk of atonement around the volleyball net and back to the grill.
For the rest of the summer I will be pushing out a 'Pasta Salad of the Month' to educate the masses how to prepare a pasta salad that will result in your dinner guests pulling their pants down to their ankles and smashing pelvises over the thought of eating more of your pasta salad (results may vary).
This isn't an integral part of the dressing but a must know technique in cooking (take notes). Set the oven to 425°F and begin the 2 minutes of prep.
- Tin foil, 2' x 2' sheet
- Olive oil
Cut the top of the heads off so the tips of the garlic cloves are exposed and place the cloves close together on a sheet of tinfoil.
Drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle with sale, this will expedite the cooking process and season the garlic (season everything). If you want an extra bit of decadence/fatassness add a 1/3 tablespoon of butter to each clove.
Take each corner of the tin foil and pinch them so there is no air inside your garlic pouch. Do not make the mistake of twisting the ends together, you will want to check on this as it cooks and that will make it impossible to unravel as it is metal foil in a hot oven. Letting small amounts of steam escape through the top is acceptable.
Place in the oven on a sheet pan or cast iron pan for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check periodically.
The next step is to prep the rest of the ingredients, I thought this was something most people don't do but is extremely important and that is to separate the parsley leaves from the stem.
This was the finished product, I left a lot of the wilted, faded and brown leave with the stems. If you decide to leave the unwanted parts of most herbs (stems & seeds) in the dressing it will become bitter. Take the few minutes to prep this and it will make all the difference.
The Main Attraction
Here are the final list of ingredients:
- 1-2 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard
- 1-1/2 boxes of bow tie pasta, 2 boxes are shown however I didn't use it all
- 1-1/2 packages of sweet Italian sausages, I cooked 2 packages and determined 2 whole packages was too much but don't feel obligated to follow that school of thought
- Fresh herbs
- 1 bunch of Basil
- 1 bunch of trimmed flat leaf parsley, I used approximately half this in the dressing
- 1 package of oregano, I used about 1/3 this in the dressing
- 1/2 sliced red onion
- 1-1/2 orange bell peppers
- 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 medium shallot, this looks like two however it's one shallot that has the paper removed
- 3 roasted garlic heads
- 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar, regular sugar works as well
- 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 bag of frozen corn, unless it is corn season and you can use fresh corn
Bake the sausage links in a 375°F for 20 to 25 minutes.
Flip halfway through for even cooking.
Place a pot of water on the stove while you start to make your dressing, you will want this done as soon as the pasta comes off the stove.
Empty the following ingredients into a food processor or blender; extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, roasted garlic cloves (peel the paper off or squeeze the contents into the mixture), shallots, parsley, oregano leaves, sugar, salt & pepper to taste.
Always taste you pasta right before you plan on taking it off the stove, when making pasta salad slightly under cook your pasta since it will continue cooking as it sits in the bowl. DO NOT RINSE YOUR PASTA. I once dumped a girl because she rinsed her pasta in front of me.*
Mix in your dressing IMMEDIATELY! This is the time to let the dressing coat the pasta, as a rule of thumb add any sauce to pasta directly out of the strainer.
Heat your frozen corn up in a pan or in the microwave. You could leave it frozen but like the people who eat frozen grapes you will do what you want and have no problem eating disgusting things.
Here are the sliced red onion, orange bell pepper (any color is acceptable but I like to add varying colored vegetables), cooked sausage, halved cherry tomatoes and no-longer-frozen corn. Your pasta can still be warm when adding this, however let this sit before adding the final ingredients.
Combine you prepared ingredients and the dressed pasta, which should has slightly cooled down. Add in your cheese. It helps to have the pasta salad cool when mixing the cheese to avoid it melting and forming a ball of cheese (unless you're into that).
After adding the cheese add the basil. Refer to an older post on how to chop basil into ribbons, also known as a 'chiffonade' if you speak french or pretend to.
It might have been easier to spend $8.99 on a pound of pasta salad at the local deli, or you could spend an hour of cooking and an hour of waiting to make your own. Your finished product is always best after 12 hours of sitting in the fridge. Why? I have no idea, but the best part is you can make this the night before and avoid that morning cooking session.
*Full disclosure I have never dumped a girl for solely rinsing pasta but it was a contributing factor in it not working out.