March's #Garlic Recipe of the Month | By Jan D'Atri
Pasta Salad Plus
Call it the king of Improvisation. The Pasta Salad has become one of our favorite main dish meals and the opportunity to give leftovers one last chance! While most pasta salads have a mayonnaise or vinaigrette base, this one takes it in a completely different direction. The dressing for this pasta salad starts with the hot water that you've cooked your pasta in. When you add that water to ricotta cheese, softened garlic, lemon juice and parmesan cheese, you have a rich, silky dressing that completely enrobes all of your pasta, veggies and greens. The garlic is a key ingredient, and this method saves a lot of time. The entire head is microwaved and then minced into the dressing. For added flavor, you can finish off the softened garlic cloves in a medium hot skillet for just another minute to brown. That adds a whole new dimension of flavor!
This salad is best served immediately and is great for transporting to picnics and school lunches. Delizioso!
1 lb. small pasta shells or small tortellini, reserve pasta water!
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2-3 cups baby spinach, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
2 cups slightly steamed broccoli floweret's
1/4 cup olives, sliced
2 tablespoons parsley
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese for garnishing
For the Dressing:
1 (15 oz.) container whole milk Ricotta cheese
1 head (bulb) of garlic
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup hot pasta water
1 whole lemon, juiced
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Make pasta and reserve 1/2 cup hot pasta water. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pasta water. Drain remainder of the pasta and set aside. Using a sharp knife, cut approximately ½ inch off the top of the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on a MICROWAVE SAFE dish and drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the exposed garlic cloves. Cover the garlic with paper towel and microwave for 2 minutes in one-minute intervals. Let garlic cool and then pop the cloves out of the skins. (For more flavor, you can cook the softened garlic in a small skillet for just one minute or two on medium high heat until golden brown. Do not burn garlic.) Chop garlic fine. Make the dressing.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, garlic, parmesan cheese, the pasta water with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir or whisk to combine thoroughly.
Assemble salad. In a large bowl add pasta, tomatoes, spinach, eggs. avocado, broccoli, olives, parsley and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Pour dressing over the top and gently stir to combine. Best served immediately. (Note: Flavors will diminish when refrigerated. It may be necessary to add a little more salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil stirred in to bring flavors back up.)
Watch Jan's HOW-TO VIDEO for the PASTA SALAD PLUS