Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pasta salad with golden cherry tomatoes & fresh mozzarella

Pasta salad with golden cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella twice graced our table during our recent camping trip to Upper Blue Lake in Eldorado National Forest. Early Friday morning, my sister and husband left camp to pick up his aunt. Shortly after their departure, his nephew and wife arrived for the weekend.

With three additional campers, we though a simple buffet lunch would be in order. The menu (pictured above) included a cheese and salami board, pasta salad, salsa ranchera with tortilla chips and clam dip with potato chips. The salsa and clam dip were prepared at home for the trip.

The seven campers only ate around half of the pasta salad. The prospect of taking leftovers home concerned me until I heard the five families in the campground had planned a potluck dinner that evening. I quickly threw the pasta salad in as our contribution, along with my secret barbecue sauce and leftover salsa.

My sister contributed campfire roasted tri-tip. Our neighboring campers contributed cowboy sushi roll, fresh abalone, fresh canteloupe and a big tossed salad, plus a few miscellaneous items. Some 20 campers devoured the food.

I mixed the ingredients for the pasta salad in my 10-inch Griswold cast iron skillet. To expedite preparation in camp, the pasta was precooked at home. I also pre-prepared the sherry vinaigrette with sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, dried basil, salt, pepper and olive oil. 
Dishes like the pasta salad are often thrown together on the fly. You can substitute red cherry tomatoes or dice fresh tomatoes for the golden tomatoes in the recipe. If desired, add 8 to 12 ounces diced cooked chicken or cuded salami to the salad.

You my want to cut this recipe in half for a smaller family.

12 ounces penne regate
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh sliced basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 (8 ounce) container fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and sliced in half
1 (10-1/2-ounce) container golden cherry tomatoes. sliced in half
1 (4-ounce) jar capers, drained and rinsed (optional)
3/4 to 1 cup vinaigrette or Italian salad dressing
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste.

AT HOME: Cook pasta according to package instructions. Cool under cold running water. Drain and place inside a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Prepare or purchase your favorite vinaigrette or Italian dressing. Store in refrigerator until you are ready to pack for the trip.

IN CAMP: Slice the green onions, parsley and basil. Place inside a large bowl. Drain mozzarella cheese. Slice each cheese ball in half. Slice tomatoes in half. Place cheese and tomatoes in bowl with the herbs. Drain and rinse capers. Place in bowl.

Lightly toss pasta, herbs, tomatoes, cheese and capers with the salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover. Place in cooler until needed for the meal. Serves 8 to 10.

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