Monday, August 9, 2010

Pasta salad with mustard vinaigrette

This is really dorky, but I was amazed to Google "Clock-Racing Gourmet" today and see the blog come right up!  And in other happy news, short runs with no IT band trouble are starting to be the norm again!

Nearly every pasta salad I've made from scratch is loosely based on the one they served at the last restaurant I worked at - the City Café inside the Bank of America building at Calhoun and Main.  Whereas theirs always had diced red bell pepper, scallions and black olives tossed in their house (balsamic) dressing, mine usually has the scallions and olives with tomatoes substituted for the peppers, and my usual dressing is Ken's Steakhouse Northern Italian dressing with some additional shredded parmesan to make it more filling.  Well, I was fresh out of the dressing and scallions on Sunday but still had dark green leeks and other condiments out the proverbial wazoo, so I opted to make the dressing as well as the pasta salad. 

8 oz. Barilla wheat spiral pasta
1-2 leeks (green tops only), sliced 1/4 inch
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 can large black olives, drained
1 tbsp spicy mustard
1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.  Combine the next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  When the pasta is ready, add it to the bowl. 

In a smaller bowl, combine the mustard and winegar and then whisk in the olive oil and continue whisking until blended.  Stir the dressing into the pasta salad, cover and chill for at least two hours.  Check seasoning and add salt to taste before serving.

I found this last part especially important, because it tasted a little sour at room temperature.  Chilling it seemed to temper the dressing and also took the edge off the leeks, which can be as strong as yellow onions when they've just been chopped.  After checking the flavor after a couple of hours later, I had a better sense of how much salt (not as much as I expected) would be needed to deal with the flat acidic taste of the mustard vinaigrette.  It probably could have been added while I was making the dressing, but I try to err on the side of caution so as not to oversalt my food. 

Finally - something that takes next to no cooking that I can enjoy on a hot day!

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