Saturday, October 11, 2008

Favorite Pasta (Salad)

I've been obsessed with making different variations of this pasta salad recipe all summer. The dressing is so delish and it goes well with everything. I found it on the Food Network website (Food Network Kitchens Get Grilling, Meredith 2005).

Pasta Salad with Dill and Ham (or anything else you want to add!)

1/4 medium red onion, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for salting water (I only use 1 tsp b/c 2 makes it way too salty, probably b/c I'm using regular salt rather than kosher)
8 ounces elbow macaroni (I prefer bowtie b/c it's prettier:)
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat)
6 ounces cooked ham, cut into 1&3-inch cubes (have substituted chicken but think the ham was better)
3/4 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
2 ribs celery, with leaves, diced (don't like celery so I skip it)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

To mellow the minced onion, soak it in cold water while you make the salad.
Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat and salt it generously. Add the macaroni (bowtie) and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander, put in a serving bowl, and toss with the milk. Allow the macaroni to cool slightly while you make the dressing.

For the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, the 2 teaspoons salt, and black pepper to taste in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream to make a smooth, slightly thick dressing. Whisk in the sour cream.
Drain the onions, pat dry, and add to the macaroni along with the ham, peas, celery, and dill. Add the dressing and fold to coat the pasta evenly. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Know-How: Why the milk? When we left it out of the recipe, the macaroni absorbed too much of the dressing and the salad was overly acidic. Adding just a couple tablespoons mellowed the dressing and gave the salad a wonderful old-fashioned quality without being goopy or heavy. (This is really true! I tried it one time without the milk and it did end up overly tangy tasty).

My Variations: Use the same dressing, pasta, and dill but substitute steamed asparagus and goat cheese for the ham, peas, celery. I used squash and zucchini with goat cheese one time too which was also delish - left those veggies uncooked.


mollie said...

The sauce on this pasta salad is one of the best I've ever had! Love it! I also substituted shelled edamame for the peas cause I'm not a big pea person ;)

MsAmanda said...

yay! i need a good pasta salad recipe!

Jennifer said...

I just made this tonight. Very yummy! I kept taking little bites as I was putting away the leftovers.

MsAmanda said...