Thursday, July 24, 2014

Farmer's Market Pasta Salad

In 2007, Barbara Kingsolver wrote a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's her account about how she relocated her family from the west to Appalachia for a quest to grow or buy local all of their food for an entire year. They began with asparagus season and learned about gardening, raising their own animals, and how to stretch a season's produce as far as possible. It's an amazing book full of recipes, how-to's, and a little bit of science. Every year around February or March, I request the book from the public library so that I can reread it and get inspiration for the upcoming growing year.

I'm far from Barbara Kingsolver's approach of growing all of your own food, but try to do my part, I do try to eat clean as much as possible. For sure, if I'm cooking at home, I almost always (emphasis on almost) cook from scratch. That's what's so nice about summer and all of summer's vegetables. The fresh taste of summer produce makes cooking so much better and adds so much flavor. We are also fortunate to live in an area that in recent years has gone to a year round farmer's market. You can always get good produce.

So it's in that spirit that I bring you the latest edition of my Summer Salad Series (links to other salads will be at the end of the post). It's by far the easiest and also more versatile. In fact, it's not even a recipe, but more of a formula. Because as the name suggests, you use whatever vegetables are in season or that you can get at your farmer's market.

So here's the formula:
1 pound of any pasta, cooked
3-4 cups of vegetables, cooked (3 different vegetables are usually used for diverse flavor and color)
1 cup of dressing to coat it.

We used brown rice spiral pasta and mixed in vegetables from our garden (tomatoes and zucchini) as well as from the farmer's market (corn).

 This is the first year we've done cherry tomatoes in our garden and I am so excited! There are so many! I often don't make it inside with any, because I eat the ones I pick while I work in the garden. On this day, I managed to save some for the pasta salad. I just quartered them and threw them without cooking them. Mmmmm!

Our zucchini are coming slowly, but surely. We've had several already and have more coming. I sauteed one zucchini, sliced then quartered, in olive oil with some natural seasoned salt. I just boiled the corn, then cut it off the cob.  It would have been really good from the grill too, but I wasn't feeling that ambitious on this particular day.

For the finale, you combine the vegetables with the pasta and mix it together. 

Ta Da! How pretty is that? For the dressing, I combined 1/3 cup of homemade pesto with 2/3 cup olive oil, but you can add whatever you have on hand. It goes well with Italian style dressings as well as cream style dressings. I also suggest that if you aren't going to serve the salad right away, that you save the dressing, or at least part of it, until right before you serve it. If you prefer meat and cheese in your salad, then diced ham, pepperoni, or turkey all go well with pasta salads, as well any cheese.

Your local Farmer's Market would love to see you!

Other salads I've tried this summer are...

1.) Grilled Corn Salad with Basil Dressing
2.) Watermelon Salad with Balsamic Dressing
3.) Cucumber Dill Greek Yogurt Salad
4.) Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto
5.) Southern Western Salad with Marinated Chicken 
6.) Three Bean Salad 
7.) Chopped Greek Salad

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