Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

This little creation is again compliments to the fabulous Pioneer Woman. In her blog she says she found this recipe and has since adapted it to find the perfect pasta salad mix. I did a little of that as well - mainly giving the boot to the kalamata olives, I'm "allergic" to olives. And when I say allergic, that means I am politely declining it because in my head I'm saying ewww please no. I used to be "allergic" to several things, these days it's really only mushrooms and olives. I don't see that changing.

Grocery List:
1 box of corkskrew pasta (I went with a spinach pasta, playing on the salad aspect of pasta salad and adding some green)
1 jar of sundried tomatoes in oil (I got the 8.5 oz jar)
3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pint of ripe cherry tomatoes
10-15 basil leaves
1 - 1 and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Additional Needs:
Food Processor or Blender - can't chop it all up this time :-(
Bowl with lid
Cutting board, knife
Large Mixing Bowl

(I swear I'm getting a new camera, these pictures will be better soon. Bless Mr. Max's iPhone for providing me pictures in the interim)

To make this recipe, I would recommend you do the dressing a good 12-24 hours before you plan to serve it. The Pioneer Woman instructs that out of all the times she has made this, it is definitely better after the dressing chills in the fridge for a day, to allow all of the flavors to really blend and become fully potent. I made this the night before it was needed for a dinner party.

First you will want to drain your sundried tomatoes by pouring the contents of the jar into a colander and removing excess oil. Yes, you use olive oil later, no I don't know why you drain this oil. Thought I would address that since I was asking it to myself as I did this. Once the sundried tomatoes are drained, set them in your food processor, along with the 4 cloves of garlic and red wine vinegar. Begin pulsing that to get it chopped and smooth as much as you can. Then begin to pour the 1 cup of olive oil into the food processor between pulses until you've added the whole cup.

Draining the sundried tomatoes

Combining the sundried tomatoes, garlic and red wine vinegar

All processed together

After adding the olive oil to the mix

There will be separation from the oil and mixture - that is normal! Put in a dish and let it chill in the fridge until tomorrow.

Separation anxiety...
Poured in its plastic bed to be tucked in the fridge for the night.

It is now tomorrow. Boil your corkscrew pasta in a large pot until soft. Drain and then rinse in cold water until pasta is cool. While your pasta is cooling, take your fresh basil leaves and begin chopping. I julienned the basil leaves by stacking them on top of one another, then rolling them tight like a cigarette. Hold them together in that tight rolls and begin thinly chopping. Do this until you have your desired amount of basil.

Stacked basil leaves

Tightly rolled... Basil guys, it is basil.

Julienned bits of basil

Next, take your tomatoes and begin cutting them in halves. I decided to then cut those halves in half as well.

Cutting the cherry tomatoes into halves

The halved halves of tomatoes

Once your pasta is cool, you may now add your tomatoes and then your dressing! Add 1/2 to start with and begin churning with a big spoon. Add more of the dressing as you go and continue stirring to make sure every little noodle cranny is covered. The reason corkscrew is so good for this pasta is that the dressing chunks settle so well in all of the grooves, it makes it just full of flavor!

Adding the tomatoes

Adding the dressing

Tossing, Stirring, Churning, Flipping.... repeat.

Now, you take your cup of parmesan and cover up to 3/4 cup worth. Mix all of that into your pasta as well, then add about 1/2 of your basil. At this time, you may decide you want your salad to be a little more "oily" so you can add straight olive oil if you would like, but I liked the current consistency. Toss, toss, toss, toss, toss, done.

Adding the shredded greatness

Adding the delicious fresh basil

As mentioned, I was taking this as a contribution to a dinner party so I decided to transfer it from a bowl to a baking dish. I used the rest of the parmesan and basil to top it for presentation. The concensus was great, people enjoyed this pasta salad as much as the Pioneer Woman said they would. This is a perfect summer side that would go great at any lake house or BBQ.


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