Saturday, September 5, 2009

French Pasta Salad

Hope you guys are all enjoying your last days of summer! I've really enjoyed all the fresh fruit and great produce but I'm looking forward to my favourite season, fall.

I love pasta salads so I thought I'd try out this French pasta salad to bring to my mom's for dinner. It's a pasta salad with asparagus (I'll miss you!), roasted red peppers, toasted hazelnuts, feta, capers, parsley, and an herb Dijon dressing. While it wasn't the perfect salad, I liked it and think it could be really great with some modifications. Less pasta, more asparagus (and/or green beans). More roasted red peppers, parsley, hazelnuts and capers. More Dijon mustard in the dressing. I really like my grain salads and pastas heavy on the vegetables so I usually reduce the amount of grain and up the vegetables, but didn't do that this time.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Tarragon Pecan Asparagus
Mediterranean Pepper Salad
Portobello Salad with Mustard Dressing

French Pasta Salad
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special

Note: I made this again recently (May 2010) and changed some things - it was much better. I used 3/4 lb pasta, 2 cups of chickpeas (new addition), 2 shallots instead of 1, 2 tbsp oil, 3 tbsp Dijon (was too strong on the first day but good on following days), 1 jar of roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 3/4 cup walnuts (instead of 1/3 cup hazelnuts), and 2 tbsp capers.

1 pound whole wheat penne or ziti or rotini or fusilli
3 cups asparagus, woody ends broken off and sliced into 1 1/2" pieces

Vinaigrette Dressing
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried basil
1 large shallot, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 tbsp drained capers
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 lb)

Toast the nuts for about 10 minutes in a 325F oven, then rub them briskly with a towel to remove the skins.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta for about 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, rinse well with cool water, and set aside to drain again.

Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in boiling water to cover for about 3 minutes, or until just tender. Drain them and run them under cold water, and set aside. Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl.

Combine the pasta, asparagus, and roasted red peppers in a large serving bowl and toss with the dressing. Sprinkle on the parsley, hazelnuts, and capers and crumbled feta cheese. Toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Note: If you're making this ahead of time I would wait to put the dressing on because it soaks into the pasta and doesn't seem as strong.


VeggieGirl said...

Heavy-on-vegetable pasta salads = the best kind!! They're the heartiest, in my opinion :)

Anonymous said...

this looks so good!

Anh said...

I can tell this is so tasty!I really love pasta salad like this.

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

Love the flavors in this pasta salad. I will definitely be making this, thanks!

Steph said...

I like lots of veggies in my pasta salad! It looks yummy!

CookiePie said...

YUM - that sounds like such a delicious pasta salad!! Great flavor combo!

Colleen said...

To me, pasta salad is all about taking the basic recipe and adjusting all the ingredients to your taste. Sounds like this one has some great starting points!

Doctor-to-Be said...

Oh yum -- this salad looks like it will be excellent for lunches this week. I'm going to try it with green beans (hooray for green beans!). Love your blog!

Johanna said...

great combination of ingredients - I agree with you about keeping grains to a minimum and bumping up the veggies - wonder why these salads are always so heavy on grains?

Helene said...

I am just coming back from a week in Ottawa. Weather was beautiful. Your mom is so lucky.

Luana said...

If you want less pasta in a pasta salad, make it with orzo. It really lets the other ingredients be appreciated and not dominated by the pasta.

Teanna said...

Ooooh, French pasta salad! I've only had pasta salad with Italian flavors, but I'm loving the flavors in the dressing (especially the tarragon!)