The burn ban is lifted. I’m freakin’ grilling!
I went to church class last week, where Pam Rosser, a dear co-Episcopalian who’s also taking the class, brought this fantastic pasta salad that I’ve dreamed about ever since.
I attempted my own, which of course was more garish (haha…) than Pam’s elegant, delicate salad. Mine was more like a big pasta dish that happened to have dressing on it. And I even added lettuce to mine… but STILL, I’m damned proud of mine. It was all my favorite things, and asparagus, which I’ve come to crave every day.
So here goes, my Rosser-ripped Pasta Salad recipe
1 box Ronzoni high-fiber rotini (NooTreeShus!)
1 pound asparagus
Half a 12-ounce clamshell of grape tomatoes, halved
Garlic (I used a lot… like six cloves)
Chicken tenderloins (I used a little over a pound. You can also use regular chicken breasts, whatever you like)
Olive oil at the ready
Salt and Pepper
Your Favorite Lettuce Mix (I use herb mix)
Balsamic Vinaigrette (I made my own, recipe’s in the instructions)
Adobo seasoning (my favorite all-purpose seasoning, you can find it in the Mexican aisle, or use whatever else you like to season with. Hell, I don’t care. Use whatever you like. Use nothing. I DON’T CARE LEAVE ME ALONE! Sorry, got carried away…)
Feta or goat cheese or gorgonzola… you know where I’m going with this.
Kalamata olives (a handful or so)
This recipe requires bowls and a grill. Or bowls and a broiler. Whatevs. Here’s how I did it…
Place chicken in a big plastic bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever seasoning you like. Set aside. Slice up the zucchini and squash and place in a separate bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, add plenty of salt and pepper and seasoning, and toss. Trim the asparagus ends and put them in yet another bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. And one last part: In a small, grill-proof metal dish (I used a round cake tin) place the grape tomatoes. With a garlic press, press the garlic over the tomatoes. I use a lot because it’s the only garlic I use in the dish, and I love garlic. Add salt and pepper, olive oil, and toss.
Get your grill hot. Once it’s hot, lay the squash and zukes on the cookie cooling sheet. Add more salt over the top if you think it needs it. Place the whole cookie cooling sheet on the grill. Then the tomatoes. I have a double rack on my grill, so I put the squash mix on the bottom, tomatoes on the top.
Back in the kitchen, put a big pasta pot on with water to boil. Add salt. Of course. DUH.
Back at the grill, I added the chicken and asparagus. I turned the squash mix and stirred the tomatoes. They are starting to look delicious at this point. THEY ARE. Grape tomatoes on the grill are more proof that God loves us. And asparagus? Gary Larson said it best: HERE
So while all that’s cooking, I mix up the vinaigrette in a small mustard jar with a lid. Add three tablespoons or so of olive oil, two tablespoons or so of balsamic, salt, pepper, and a squeeze or two of Dijon mustard. Put the lid back on the jar, shake it violently, and set aside. Taste it. It’s better than anything you can get at the store.
OK, so drain the water off the pasta. Let it cool for a minute. The squash/zucchini will get done first, take it off and let it cool. Turn the asparagus and chicken. Come back in the house, add balsamic to pasta. Once all the veggies are done and chicken is off the grill, cut the asparagus spears and chicken into bite-size pieces. Burn off your entire fingertips. It’s worth it. Add everything to pasta. You might need a bit more salt. Toss it all together. Make sure you get all that garlic out of the pan you cooked the tomatoes in… that stuff is GOLD.
In a big bowl, put some lettuce mix on the bottom. Spoon out lots of the pasta mix. Top with kalamatas and feta, drizzle on a bit of olive oil if you’re so inclined.
Holy crap, I just realized I meant to add roasted red pepper. Oh well, didn’t need it. It might have lacked Pam’s elegance, but it had plenty of punch. And lots of veggies and greens. NOTE NOTE NOTE: You must try these tomatoes on other things. Make a whole mess of ’em, and toss with pasta and pecorino/pepper sauce… a recipe for another time. Just do it. It’s heaven in a cake tin.
So happy to see you summer/grill!