I love a good pasta salad. I know some people who are fundamentally opposed to the idea of cold pasta, but as long as the dressing has a bite and the vegetables have a crunch, I’m all in. So that’s how we ended up using many of the veg from our CSA half-share this week to make a pasta salad:
A few things about pasta salad: You need to salt the water, a lot. (If you already salt your pasta water for regular dishes, you’ll want to add a lot more than you’re used to.) You should also go for a variety of vegetables that will individually add sweetness, crunch, structure and saltiness — much like you would for a regular leaf salad. Finally, go crazy with the herbs, which will provide an extra layer of flavor.
For this salad, I used an entire pound of rotini pasta. I diced up an entire bell pepper and half a large tomato, Jeff seeded and sliced half a burpless cucumber and I finely chopped up some fresh thyme (all of these came from our CSA). We also added half a red onion (quartered and very thinly sliced), some halved olives (from a can), small cubes of mozzarella cheese and finely-chopped oregano.
Once the pasta was cooked to al dente, I drained but didn’t rinse it. Instead, I poured out the drained pasta onto a baking sheet and drizzled it with some olive oil to let it cool, since I didn’t like the idea of very hot pasta coming into contact with fresh vegetables.
Meanwhile, Jeff whipped up the dressing, but he’s since forgotten what he used. That said, don’t soak your pasta and fresh veg in store-bought, oily, MSG-filled, sugary salad dressing! The most basic dressing you can make requires just olive oil (use the good stuff, if you have it), vinegar (balsamic or red wine), salt and pepper. A 3-to-1 ratio of oil-to-vinegar is the general rule, but just use your taste buds and adjust accordingly. The worst thing you can do is drown your salad with dressing, followed by overthinking your dressing.
We used all four ears of sweet corn to make a corn risotto, which we ate with grilled lamb shank and sauteed beet greens (from last week’s beets):
For the risotto, Jeff pretty much used Food & Wine’s recipe, except he cooked the corn separately from the rice. He thought the corn would turn mushy by the end of the process, and wanted the kernels to remain intact. I appreciated this deviation from the recipe since I could actually taste the sweet corn, and plus, it’s pretty to look at.
Finally, we used about half our sweet cherries to make a cherry soda:
Jeff pitted 1 cup of sweet cherries, then squeezed juice out of them into a small saucepan. He added the squeezed cherries into the saucepan and lightly simmered them with the juice to help release even more liquid. Then he removed the cherries, placed them in a strainer and squeezed them harder to get as much juice out out as possible.
To make the drink itself, mix the cherry juice with simple syrup, to taste. Throw a couple of ice cubes into a glass, add the juice and simple syrup mixture and top off with club soda or seltzer. Stir, and garnish with a lemon. Add the macerated cherries if you’re in the mood (we were). Drink up!
Check back later to find out our plans for our next CSA share. And if you have any ideas or suggestions (we’re always open to new recipes!), feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.