I don’t know about y’all, but pasta salad has never really turned my crank. It always seems to be caked with some mayonnaise-ish goo that tastes like, basically, nothing. Maybe you throw in a few gross pimentos for kicks. Well, say goodbye to that grody pasta salad of yesterday. This one will knock your socks off, as my sweet grandma used to say.
But grandma can’t take credit for this one. If credit is due, it’s going to the Charity League of Paducah. Inspired by a recipe printed in Thyme to Entertain, the League’s most recent cookbook, this dish has got to be the most refreshing, sweet, zingy, flavorful pasta salad ever. And since I’m not a member of the Charity League, I can announce with complete neutrality that everyone should own a copy of this league cookbook. It makes me happy just looking at it, and there are some serious gems in this book. It’s full of truly unique (but mostly non-fussy) recipes that will make you want to go throw a garden party.
Serve this pasta salad with turkey burgers, grilled chicken, or just about any main dish. I even love it all by itself for a small meal. In fact, when I see it in the fridge, it’s very difficult not to eat straight out of the bowl with the serving spoon.
There’s a good bit of sugar and oil in this dish, so it’s not ultra low-cal or low fat, but it contains very little saturated fat or cholesterol, and it’s packed with nutrients, so as long as you limit yourself to one serving, you’ll be fine. So good luck with that. But hey, this salad is so refreshingly sweet, it should zap your craving for dessert. Now shake that booty.
Pasta Salad to Die For
Serves 8 (Plenty for leftovers!)
Prep and cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 (13.25 oz) box of 51% whole wheat rotini or your favorite whole wheat pasta (We prefer 51% whole wheat pasta over 100% whole wheat, due to the texture, but go with what you like! If you can’t do any amount of whole wheat, you can always use regular or tri-color pasta, but you are sacrificing that whole grain goodness!)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 bunch green onions (about 6)
- 1 (15 oz) can hearts of palm
- 1 (15 oz) can whole pitted black olives or 1 small can sliced black olives (If you hate olives, omit them, but oh that hurts me to think about.)
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, whisk together sugar, vinegar, oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Chop green onions, hearts of palm, and olives, and cut tomatoes in half.
- When pasta is done, rinse under cold water for 1 minute.
- Toss pasta with dressing, veggies, and cheese.
- Serve immediately or chill in the fridge before serving.