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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Version of Mediterranean Pasta Salad

This salad is one of several different pasta salads I've come up with through the years, and probably my favorite one. It's got it all. Start with a pound of farfalle (otherwise known as bowtie) pasta. Now be forewarned. If you do make a whole pound of pasta, this salad will feed an army. Cook pasta in salted water to al dente, drain, cool completely. You can toss with a little olive oil while it's cooling if you like, to keep it from sticking together.

Now the good stuff. First up, half a pound of pitted Kalamata olives, sliced.

A whole pint of grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes if you like), sliced.

Then a small jar of marinated artichoke hearts. They are usually already sliced, but I slice them in half again. Sometimes even more if it's particularly big.

You will also need a full 9 oz. bag of spinach. I made this before I went to the farmers market so I used the bagged pre-washed spinach.

And then, a 5 oz. container of crumbled Feta cheese.

Now the dressing. This is a very simple Balsamic vinaigrette. The salad is so chock full of flavors you don't need to bog the dressing down with too much. One half cup Balsamic vinegar to one cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This is actually double the amount of dressing I usually make, but this salad is big and needs it. Add salt and pepper to the dressing, to taste. Remember you put olives in this salad so you may not need as much salt as you think.

Mix well and the spinach will start to wilt into the salad.

It's great as a side dish or on it's own. It's fantastic with some grilled chicken added. Feel free to leave out whatever you may not like. If you don't like Feta, try using cubes of mozzarella instead. If you don't like Kalamata's, by all means use an olive you do like. A lemon citronette (lemon juice, Dijon, olive oil) instead of the Balsamic vinaigrette would be delish too. Play with it. It's really really yummy.

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