green light March 17, 2009

I think pasta salad gets a bad wrap. I really do. It's one of those things that sends people in a nostalgic tailspin – thinking about the macaroni salad at family gatherings. The rotini pasta drenched in bottled Italian dressing. Worst of all, do you remember the boxed Suddenly Salad mixes? Oy. If you don't, consider yourself lucky.

Pasta salad – from scratch – allows you to add any sort of herbs and flavors without spending a ton of time with prep work. They are also super economical and have the ability to stretch over several meals and be a great packed lunch.

I have been having a craving for pasta as well as a ridiculous desire to make another batch of Ina's Green Goddess dressing. Using some basic ingredients and leftover herbs that I had in the fridge, I whipped up my own version of that dressing and its delicious. Garlicky, herbaceous, and creamy without being heavy. Toss some chopped up tomatoes and curly pasta and it became an amazing salad recipe.

This is the kind of dressing that loves other vegetables so feel free to add some quickly blanched thin green beans, broccoli or edamame. A handful of fresh spinach leaves stirred through would also be great and would add extra vitamins. I have to say – this pasta salad is screaming to be eaten with grilled foods or a piece of fried chicken (warm or cold) in a picnic lunch.

Green Goddess Pasta Salad – serves 4 as a side dish

  •     1/4 tsp. anchovy paste
  •     1/4 tsp. dried red chili flakes
  •     zest and juice of 1 lemon
  •     2 cloves garlic, smashed
  •     2 tablespoons mayonnaise – I prefer Duke's or homemade
  •     2 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream
  •     2 cups fresh herbs – tough stems removed – I used basil, flat leaf parsley, chives and baby arugula. Use whatever you prefer or have already in your fridge!
  •     1/2 pound (dry) tortiglioni, farfalle, campanelle or orcchiette pasta
  •     1/2 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  •     kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

– In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water to bring pasta temperature down. Allow to sit in strainer and drain thoroughly.
– Meanwhile, add anchovy paste, red chili flakes, lemon zest and juice, garlic, mayo, yogurt and herbs to a food processor. Puree until smooth and well mixed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper levels – with the addition of the anchovy paste, you may not need the salt.
– Add the cooled pasta and tomatoes – and whatever additional veggies you choose to throw in – to a large salad bowl. and fold in dressing. This recipe makes more dressing than you need to liberally coat the pasta so add it gradually and enjoy the leftover dressing as a dip or on wedge salads! This tastes best if it has at least 4 hours or so to cool and percolate together and would be fabulous overnight.


Mia at Easy-Recipes Mar 17, 2009 12:03 pm

This is definitely going to be my dinner for tonight.
I like the green for St. Patrick’s Day!
I am going to just replace the cherry tomatoes with some grilled chicken!

Ninette Mar 17, 2009 02:03 pm

Gorgeous photo!

Broderick, Savory Exposure Mar 17, 2009 04:03 pm

Duke’s? Such a southern girl you are ;) (I like Duke’s too, although I grew up on Miracle Whip ‘salad dressing’)

bettyjoan Mar 17, 2009 06:03 pm

Looks fantastic!

Katharine May 13, 2009 02:05 pm

I made this, and absolutely loved it. Seriously, this is the best new recipe I’ve tried this year. The only thing I’d do differently next time would be to reduce the chili flakes a little. Mine were old (I thought), and I was worried about them lacking potency, so I added extra. Um, I needn’t have worried. They were plenty spicy. It was still delicious, though.
Thank you for your great recipes and lovely pictures!