Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fresh and Cold, Farmers Market Pasta Salad

We spent part of Saturday morning at the South of the James Farmers Market, off Forest Hill Ave., here in Richmond. In spite of record high temperatures, the market was full of people and wonderful fresh produce, interesting crafts and all things local. We bought some delicious peaches, juicy blackberries, and the first local tomatoes of the season. My garden is full of flowers, but if you aren't so blessed, the zinnias and sunflowers were a good buy and abundant.

When it's hot outside, like it is here in Central Virginia, I can hardly think straight some days. Cooking and even eating are almost chores -- well the cooking part anyway. I like to make a lot of things all at once, so I can enjoy the labor throughout the work week. This weekend, I cooked a salmon, made a large, hot pasta dish, whipped up some cold cucumber soup and our favorite pasta salad.
I always love something cold on a hot day, and my cold cucumber soup fits the bill for lunch or dinner (check my blog archive from last summer). I like to eat the soup with a little bowl of pasta salad. Here's a simple one, using the tastiest ingredients from the farmers market. The bold flavors remind me of the antipasto plate from the local Italian eatery we love, and the fresh veggies simply scream summer!

Farmers Market Pasta Salad

12 oz. tricolor rotini pasta

1/3 c. olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (1 makes it slightly hot)

2 green onions, sliced thinly, green and white parts

1/2 roasted red pepper, diced (from the jar is fine if you don't want to do the prep!)

1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli (small pieces) blanched or raw, however you like it!

1/2 c. chopped zucchini

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

10 slices pepperoni, diced

2 oz. Monterrey jack cheese with peppers or plain, diced

1/2 c. sliced or halved black olives

1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained well

1 small cucumber, scrubbed well or peeled, halved lengthwise then sliced

2 sliced pepperoncini peppers

about 15 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
 or thinly sliced into chiffonade

1/2 c.  or a little more Parmesan cheese

1/2 c. red wine vinegar

Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Add the broccoli for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain well. Put the hot pan back on the burner you turned off, and add your olive oil, minced garlic, salt and red pepper flakes. Begin chopping your veggies. Add the pasta back into the oil and mix well. Add in your all the veggies and pepperoni, and toss until combined. Next add the vinegar and finally the diced jack and grated Parmesan cheese, along with the torn basil. It's easiest to do this a little at a time, so the cheese does not melt and clump together. THEN, CHILL, BABY, CHILL, for at least 2 hours, until nice and cold.

If you want a vegetarian pasta, just don't add the pepperoni, it's equally delish.

No comments: