I love pasta.
I love sun dried tomatoes.
I love Ree (aka Pioneer Woman).
The three come together in this amazing pasta salad recipe she shared a few weeks ago. It looked sooo good. It looked easy. And we had a Bible Study meeting to go to, so I thought I’d try it out. I have to admit that I adapted it just a bit (mainly because I didn’t have a couple of the ingredients called for), but it’s all good. It’s cooking…not rocket science! There’s room for experimentation! So, if you wanna see P-Dub’s Original version, clicky here. Hers is wonderful, I am most certain (I haven’t tried a single PW recipe that I didn’t like!), but like I said, I was missing a few things so I just kinda went my own way a bit.
Here’s how it went down in my kitchen one lazy Sunday afternoon.
While hubby is sawing logs in the recliner and the kids are playing Wii, you march your little self into the kitchen and put a big pot of water on to boil. Once the water comes to a full rolling boil, pour in about a pound of your favorite shape of pasta. I almost always have rotini on hand, so that’s what I used.
Throw in a good amount of salt and give it a stir.
While the pasta is cooking, we’ll get our sun-dried tomato dressing made. At my grocery store, I’ve only found the sun dried tomatoes in a plastic container in the produce section. But you may find them in a jar, packed in oil. If you buy the jarred kind, be sure to drain them well before proceeding.
Place about a 10 or 12 pieces of sundried tomatoes into a food processor bowl.
Add a few tablespoons of olive oil.
Toss in a couple cloves of garlic.
Now, here is where I first went astray from PW’s original recipe. And for a couple of reasons. One…it called for red wine vinegar and I didn’t have any in the pantry. Two…remember the Chicken Bryan recipe? It had a nice sauce of sun-dried tomatoes and lemon juice/zest. Mmmm…what a nice combination. So, to replace the acidic vinegar, I used lemon juice.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon right into the processor bowl (being careful not to let the seeds slip into the bowl!)
Add in a pinch or two of salt and pepper and blend until the tomatoes are chopped pretty well. Take a peek and if it looks too dry, add some more olive oil and blend a bit more. You’re finished when it looks something like this:
Here’s another point where I went astray…I was out of olives, fresh basil AND cherry tomatoes. What? Quit looking at me that way…it was time for a grocery trip, okay? So, I diced up a couple slices of bacon that were hangin’ out in the fridge and cooked them till they were nice and crispy.
Grate yourself about a cup each of parmesan and pecorino romano cheese. I like the combination of the flavors, but feel free to just use 2 cups of either one instead.
By now, your pasta should be done. Drain it and rinse it with cold water until it’s cool to the touch.
Place your pasta in a large bowl. Toss in the bacon, about 1-1/2 cups of the cheeses and some of the dressing, stirring gently to coat. At this point, you’ll also want to add in some basil and/or parsley. Sadly, my parsley plant has just about seen it’s last days, so I had to use dried. Same with the basil. Although the salad tasted fine, I know it would have been even better with fresh herbs. *Sigh*
As you’re stirring it all together, add more dressing until it reaches the consistency you like. If you like your pasta salad a little more ‘dry’ – more pasta, less dressing, don’t add much. If you like your pasta salad all goopy and drippy with loads of dressing, add it all. Or, if you’re like me (and Goldilocks) and you like it in the middle, use just enough to get it “just right” for you. 🙂
Then, sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese over the top.
And finish it all off by putting a couple of lemon pinwheels on top!