Friday, September 12, 2014

Recipe: Greek Pasta Salad

I grew up spending many many hours at First Church United in West Liberty, Iowa. Why? Because my Grandma served food at every event there for probably 20 years. That's how I grew up and how I was taught to serve and volunteer. Recently my church requested new folks to add to their service team - to bring food for the many funerals and services they hold. I jumped at the chance! I figure this will be a great chance for me to cook more - as well as serve where needed. In addition, it's a great way to remember my Grandma and what she taught me.  

It's also fun to be able to make new recipes and blog about them! I negotiated to bring a pasta salad and thought I'd just make a little extra so Larry and I had a bit to try. So I knew - it had to be egg-free. I found a great recipe for a Greek Vinaigrette and decided that would be my inspiration! 

I also was super-excited to try out my new pots & pans from Brylane Home!!! Finally - MATCHING POTS & PANS. I'm 41 years old and this is a first for me! I chose the purple color because it's so fun and the ceramic inside. I've tried a ceramic pan at a cooking class and loved it - so I was anxious to use them in my own kitchen as well.

All I did for this recipe was boil pasta - but hey - you gotta start somewhere. These pans are lightweight but a nice quality. The other bonus is that the pasta pot handles fit nicely in my sink when filling the water. I could sort of rest them on the lip of the sink and gather ingredients while the water filled up the pot!

I made the Greek Vinaigrette dressing first and let that chill and meld together while I prepped the pasta salad. This was a really easy recipe to put together. I actually had something else in mind but was too tired to go to the store - so I created this by just staring at my cupboard for a few minutes! The only real substitute I had to make was monterrey jack instead of feta - but it turned out great. I diced the jack into very small cubes.

A couple of notes that are in the recipe - but just to explain:

* The pasta salad absorbs a lot of the dressing overnight - I reserve some of the dressing to put on right before I serve to give it a little fresher feel. Otherwise it can soak it all up and then be a bit dry in the morning.
* Add just half the bacon bits (or real bacon) before you chill and then half right before you serve. The first bacon will moisten up a bit and rehydrate while the ones you add at the end will provide a nice crunch!
* I added black beans because they were in the fridge - a little extra protein. But you could easily substitute those baby pepperoni circles or some diced chicken if you wanted to make it a full meal.

I hope you enjoy my salad - the folks at church said it was a hit! Woohoo! I did save some back and we liked it a lot. My husband polished everything off - except the tomatoes (he's so picky). :-)

Greek Vinaigrette Dressing (adapted from Katie's Cucina)

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Tablespoon Greek Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients together and chill.

Greek Pasta Salad 

8 oz dry small pasta (bowtie, ditali, macaroni)
1/2 large jar pepperocinis pepper rings, chopped
4 oz Rumiano Non-GMO Monterrey Jack cheese, diced
    * (or your favorite cheese - Feta would be perfect)
3 oz black olives, sliced
4 oz black beans, drained & rinsed
1 container cherry tomatoes, halved
4 Tablespoons bacon bits (split)
1 Tablespoon McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning (split)
Greek Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe above) (split)


1. Make Greek dressing and chill in the refrigerator
2. Boil pasta according to package directions and drain.
3. While pasta is boiling, prep all vegetables (pepperocinis, olives, tomatoes, cheese)
4. Once pasta is drained and cooled a bit, add pepperocincis, cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, 2 Tablespoons bacon bits and 1/2 Tablespoon McCormick Salad Supreme. Stir gently to mix.
5. Drizzle HALF of the Greek Vinaigrette dressing and mix well.
6. Place pasta salad in air tight container and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
7. Right before serving, add in additional Salad Supreme and Greek Vinaigrette dressing. Stir well.
8. Top with remaining bacon bits.

If you're looking for other potluck worthy dishes, try these:

Crab & Pasta Salad
Pepperoni Monkey Bread
Stuffing in a Crock Pot

Disclosure: Brylane Home provided me the pots & pans free of charge but the opinions and recipe are all my own. 
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