June 10, 2011

an invented pasta salad recipe

But first...a longish whinge about night classes as a prelude to the recipe...

Why is it that adult education tends to be organized in the form of evening classes?  Oh, I suppose it is because the majority of folks have inflexible schedules during the day, but I would have expected at least one daytime option for a sewing course.  Finally, after searching in Orange, Durham, Alamance, Chatham and Wake counties, after much bitter complaining and a couple of semesters of being pigheaded, I bit the bullet and decided to register for a night course.

{It is high time that I get the fundamentals down...my project pile has grown too large.}

With Philip working in downtown Raleigh this summer, I chose the course closest to him to minimize the ridiculous permutations of bus rides, long commutes and late pick ups.  This delicate dance of a single-car {by choice} family that is wrapping up a year of eating in has made dinner a bit of a challenge on class nights.  I leave home at 4:30 to pick up Philip at 5 and my class is from 6:30 - 9:30 about five miles down the road from the state capitol.  He hangs out at the library nearest my class and we get home together around 10:30.  {In typical husband fashion, he has decided to use his time to catch up on 'great' literature, last night conquering Kafka's Metamorphosis and a few other stories.  It makes the late night drive home full of interesting and unexpected conversation.} 

On the first week of classes I just ignored dinner and we were hungry and cranky once we arrived home.  It was nearly eleven and we just crawled into bed and called it a night.  {Let's be honest, we eat an incredibly nutritionally dense diet, part of me wonders if the developed world would benefit from more meal skipping...}  Please ignore the fact that at the ripe old age of thirty-one, eleven is approaching two hours beyond our average bedtime.

To minimize Thursday night grouchiness {a fully female complaint}, I decided to pack a simple picnic with items on hand as a nice surprise for Philip.  I didn't want to make sandwiches.  While not at school, poor husband is stuck with them for lunch and I can only take so much peanut butter in a nine month period.

The Menu:
Black Sesame Chicken Meatballs {w/ Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce}
Basil Pasta Salad
Apples {we like to keep desert simple around here :)}

Today I'm going to share the pasta salad recipe because, well, we ate all of the meatballs and I didn't take photos yesterday while I was assembling everything.  I only packed a two person portion of the pasta salad and despite having it for lunch with some hard boiled eggs, we still have a bit of it left.

This particular dressing was invented because I am not one for possessing logical condiments and I am also the proud mother of a renegade, out-of-control fruitful basil plant.

I also wanted a creamy dressing, but not an overly heavy salad.  Oh the flights of fancy of a pregnant woman.

Ingredients for the Salad:
2 cups of uncooked pasta of your choice.
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 large ripe delicious tomato, chopped
A handful of fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade

Ingredients for the Dressing:
1 T of cream cheese
2 tsp of mayonaise
1 tsp of dijon mustard
1 tsp of lemon juice
1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
dash of sea salt

Cook the pasta until al dente.  Drain and cool pasta.  Add chopped cucumber, tomatoes and the chiffonade of basil to the cooled pasta and toss to mix.  Whisk together the dressing components.  Taste dressing and then add to the assembled salad.  Toss to coat.  Enjoy.

** If I'm honest, I didn't measure as I whisked the dressing together.  I just added a dash & a dab as I saw fit.  I taste as I mix, but the largest component was cream cheese with a bit more mayo than mustard and enough lemon juice to smooth it out and balance the saltiness of the mayo.**

The dressing very lightly coated our salad, enough to remind me how much I enjoy cream cheese and tomato on a bagel, but not enough to feel like we were eating mayonnaise with a side of pasta.

PS - I like to spell whisk without an h...thank you mass marketing of the laundry detergent brand.  I hate writing it almost as much as broccoli {which I misspelled on my first typing just now}.

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