Day off with Ben means cooking our meals together, and today, while at the grocery store, we decided to make a large batch of pasta salad. I know what you’re thinking — of all the things you can make, you choose pasta salad, how boring!
But, Ben’s mom often makes an enormous batch of hearty, veggie filled, food coma enducing pasta salad for dinner; it was weird for me at first too, and actually when I recently told my dad about it, he responded the same way. Pasta salad seems like a partner in crime dish, not a center stager. Not the case. Let me show you how!
We start by boiling two boxes of rotini, one whole wheat the other semolina. But, that’s the least exciting part of this cooking extravaganza.
While the pasta is tendering to perfection in the pot, everything must be chopped and prepared.
Other than onion and green pepper, we cut up red pepper. With everything I make, it’s often made up of whatever I have in my fridge. Though peppers and onions are probably the most commonly used, you can experiment with whatever is taking up space in your produce bin.
And with all this slicing and dicing it’s helpful to have a an extra set of hands… meet, Ben! My lover, best friend and partner in the kitchen.
Back to the important thing here, the food! Next up, cheese. We love cheese. A lot. So, we choose to put in fresh mozz, feta and parmesan. Again, you can pick and choose the cheese you use and how much. I think, the more the better. If anything, I think the parmesan and feta are almost necessary. The feta adds a creaminess, and much needed salt; the parmesan binds everything together.
So, now that everything is ready, the pasta is cooked, it’s time to put this beast of a pasta salad together. But, hold the phone, before you go throwing it all in, there is an order that is very important. Because the pasta is warm we don’t want to throw the mozz in first because it will melt. I love melted cheese — not in my pasta salad.
First in, the olive oil and onions. The onions cook a little and become lucid in the depths of the warm pasta. You can also add in the parmesan here if you so choose to include it.
There is a very important ingredient that we add in here as well, and that is apple cider vinegar. I think this is the make or break ingredient. Ben’s mom uses raspberry balsamic, which is also great, but I love the apple cider vinegar because it gives your pasta the acidity and still a great deal of sweetness; just the right amount. We always end up adding more at the end because it’s so good.
Once you’ve added all these ingredients, feel free to dump in the rest of your diced veggies, then go ahead with the feta; mozz last. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other seasoning you might want.
And even though I’m full to the max from eating my fair share of the ingredients as we chopped and crumbled, I still find room deep down to enjoy a big bowl.