Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bacon, Basil & Tomato Pasta Salad

Fall 2013 019

 I often swing past the ‘fancy’ cheese area in front of the deli meat counter looking for really nice cheeses on ‘Manager’s Special’ – it’s a good way to try something new without investing a fortune, and it makes me get creative when I bring home something that I don’t usually have on hand.  We’ve found some yummy cheeses this way – and that’s good because our family loves cheese! One of the things I often see on sale is the cute individual fresh mozzarella balls packed in water in the little tubs. I usually scoop them up because they are so versatile in so many recipes. I had a ton of little tomatoes coming on strong in the garden at the same time that I found the mozzarella on sale, we were headed to a gathering at church and thus a new recipe was born!

Bacon, Basil & Tomato Pasta Salad

1 pound box mini penne or mini farfalle pasta
2 tbsp. light olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Cook pasta in salted boiling water 7 minutes until just tender. Drain. Immediately submerge in ice cold water for 5-6 minutes. Drain well again. Toss with first amount of lemon juice and olive oil and spread pasta out on a cookie sheet. Place in fridge to cool thoroughly and dry a bit for 30 - 45 minutes.
2 pounds cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese bite sized balls (packed in water , well drained) cut in halves
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
1 white onion, diced finely
½ cup fresh chives (I use scissors to cut these quickly) or green onions
Add tomatoes, onions and first amount of cheese to cooled pasta in a large bowl.
2 small cloves of fresh garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano and thyme, finely diced
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup feta cheese crumbles
¼ cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well until they are emulsified together into a creamy dressing. Pour over pasta mixture and refrigerate overnight.
½ pound low sodium bacon cooked until crisp and crumbled
In the morning add the bacon crumbles and stir well. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours before serving. Garnish with additional bacon, chives or parsley.

Taste before serving – additional sea salt may be needed.

Makes 12 cups of pasta salad.
* Since this was originally for a potluck and needed to be ‘dry’ rather than soupy for traveling and serving, I made a small amount of the dressing. If you like more dressing, double the recipe!
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