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Monday, November 15, 2010

My Sister's Favorite Pasta Salad

Another requested holiday item - sister Cynthia wants this on the Thanksgiving table - I love the mix of White Balsamic Vinegar and Champagne Vinegar (white wine vinegar works if you can't find the champagne vinegar).  The marinated artichokes at Central Market Westgate (South), in Austin, TX, are to die for - they are marinated in a champagne vinegar as well...nice continuity of flavors. Their Greek Olive mix is extraordinarily tasty as well.  (Damn, I miss Central Market!)


This is one recipe I made up myself.  I've tweaked it and used it a variety of ways over the years...I've been making it for about 15 years now! (see Quinoa Salad for an alternate version)  This version, though, is the Austintacious version...made with Central Market products that make it "perfectly" delicious.  (oh dear, I'm feeling homesick for Austin)


Debbi's Austintacious Pasta Salad


¼ cup Champagne Vinegar
¼ cup White Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup sugar
½ cup canola oil (can use EVOO)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fine ground black pepper

1 or 2 English Cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved and sliced (I like two because I love cukes!)
1 medium red onion, halved and very thinly sliced…or sometimes I use 3 shallots instead
1 small container cherry tomatoes (halved) or grape tomatoes (halved or whole)
1 cup mixed pitted Greek olives (I use the Central Market bulk mix – their small container)
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (I use the Central Market bulk mix – their small container – if pieces are too large, cut them in half or quarters)
1 small container Athenos Traditional Feta Cheese crumbles – not the herbed ones
1 pound bow tie or spiral pasta, cooked al dente (prefer Central Market whole wheat organic)

If you like them, add thin red bell pepper slices or thinly sliced carrots

Can easily be made into a main dish by adding boiled shrimp or chopped breast of rotisserie chicken at the end.


First, make dressing. 
Whisk together vinegars, sugar, salt and pepper (not oil) and set aside (this allows the sugar and salt to fully dissolve which it won’t do in oil). 
Prepare veggies while pasta cooks, rinse pasta in cool water, drain and set aside. 
Whisk oil into dressing mixture, toss pasta into dressing first, and then dump in all the other things except the cheese. 
Toss to coat thoroughly. 
Add Feta cheese last and stir in gently (or it will dissolve too much). 
Put in fridge for at least 2-3 hours to marinate (overnight is even better), stirring every hour or so (or put it in a big plastic container with a tight lid and roll and shake gently instead of stirring).


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