Spicy Balsamic and Feta Pasta Salad

So it is in the dead of winter here in NH.  Okay maybe not dead but it is cold and snowy and dreary out.  And I want pasta salad.  I want something that reminds me of summer and pasta salad does that.  Well so does potato salad but especially pasta salad.  I love them anyway I can have them, creamy mayo based, oil dressing based, I have even had a weird cheesey based one.  That one was weird and I am not too upset that I never learned the recipe.  LOL   But there is something to be said about the mix of veggies and pasta and something to bring it all together.  And I am totally on Robs side that there is just something fun about cold pasta.  Yum

So two days after my surgery Rob and I were sitting and chattin about pasta and about a conversation that had been on a cooking board I am part of.  We had talked about where people got their recipes from and if people actually just make things up anymore?  So I said to Rob, well I do.  I said (with a little Vicoden induced bravado) that I could make up a recipe for something right then.  And this was born.  I was thinking of the grocery list and I needed feta, we had been out for 3 whole days!  And I needed salad fixings like cucumber and scallions and ohhhhh I want some of my spicy garlic.  Ohhh goodness a caprese salad sounds delightful.. well actually what sounds yummy is the balsamic reduction…….  so this was born.  It was born from a grocery list, balsamic reduction and Vicoden. 

I had a wait a few days to make it since we didnt get to the store that day.  And dont let the Vicoden fool you!  This is good!!  Since WW kind of limits my pasta intake I was not able to partake as much as I would like but Aaron ate almost the entire bowl by himself.  He loved it.  Rob liked the flavor but I had cooked the pasta a bit much.  Nik is weird, he doesnt like pasta salad, with the exception of my italian dressing one.

Ingredients
yield is about 12  3/4 cup servings.   WW points plus is 5 per serving
1 lb whole wheat rotini
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar boiled down to 1/2 cup
2 tsp sugar or 2 packets splenda
1/2 an english cuke  (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup red onion
4-5 scallions
3/4 cup quartered grape tomatoes
Spicy garlic from the olive bar to taste, I used 6 cloves
2 tbsp spicy oil (this was good for us, if you want just a subtle taste go with 1)
S & P
1/2 tsp ground mustard
3/4 cup crumbled feta

Cast of characters


Start by getting your balsamic vinegar in a medium sauce pan and add the sugar/splenda.  Reduce until it is about 1/2 cup, no need to be exact just get close so you can get the intensity of the reduction.  This may take about 1/2 hour and it will need to cool so unless you do a cold water submersion once complete you will need to start this before hand.  Or you can be a dork like me and have some on hand.  I use it for dressing on salads.   Next get your pasta cooking.  Salted water is important! 

While this is going, peel and seed your cuke and dice into pieces.

Dice the scallions.

And the onion

Quarter and seed the tomatoes.  Rob didnt like tomatoes until last year.  He still doesnt like the “slimy bits” in the middle so I get those out of there too. 

Mince up your garlic, or slice it if you would like it a bit chunkier.

Throw all the veg into a bowl and set aside.

Next take the cooled down balsamic reduction and add the spicy oil and some S & P to taste.  Add the ground mustard and whipped them together until the oil and vinegar were combined.

Add the feta to the cooled off pasta.
And then the veggies.

And then the balsamic vinegrette!

And mix thoroughly.   Chill completely.  Serve in a chilled dish.

So very good. Balsamic reduction is slightly tart but with a sweet finish at the end.  The spicy from the oil is subtle and adds a depth.  The veggies are not swimming in dressing so they stay crisp.  The feta is a creamy contrast and I LOVE feta with balsamic anyway so this just works for me.    I hope it does for you too.  Comment if you have any ideas for serving options.

Happy Cooking!!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: