Salad with pasta is my kind of salad.
I mean, there are carbs and cheese and grilled veggies!
Nothing about it not to love if you ask me.
And this salad?
Well, it’s simple. Just like the title states. Simple is good this time of year.
It’s that time of year when schools are finishing up, the weather is turning nice and everyone has one thing on their minds, letting go and enjoying life.
Of course, this was much easier to do when I was back in school, but I still have that same feeling I did when I was in middle school and we were in the last two weeks of school. Basically, I was just DYING for it to be over. Counting the days down, itching for that last day when you wore your prettiest summer outfit and things were just good.
Obviously, things are not coming to a giant halt over here simply because June is approaching, but like I said, those feelings are still there.
And to be honest, I hope I never get too old where I lose them. Because even though there aren’t going to be any drastic changes taking place around here, it’s still awesome to have those feelings surface .
Anyway, pasta salads are perfect for these late spring days.
Things are busy and I personally just want fresh, but still comforting, food. This pasta salad fits the bill.
I know pasta salads are typically served cold, but I love mine warm, where the hot pasta starts to melt all the cheese. It’s my favorite.
And so good!
- 3 red bell peppers
- 1 large bunch tuscan kale or curly kale (I think tuscan works better for the grill)
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 a lemon, juiced
- pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 pound of your favorite short cut pasta
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 pepperchinis, chopped
- 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained of oil
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 8 ounces bocconcini (mozzarella balls)
- 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese (may swap feta)
Preheat the grill to medium high heat.
Rub the bell peppers with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
Add the kale (stems on) to a large gallon size ziplock bag and add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Seal the bag and massage the olive oil onto the kale for 1 minute, making sure all of the oil coats the kale.
Wrap the garlic cloves in a small piece of tine foil. Place the bell peppers and garlic cloves on the grill and grill for 10 minutes, turning the peppers 2-3 times during cooking or until charred. Remove the peppers to a plate and add the kale to the grill. Grill the kale for 30 seconds to 1 minute on one side, then flip and grill another 30 seconds to 1 minute or until just beginning to char on the edges. Remove the kale leaves and the garlic from the grill. Allow the veggies to cool slightly and then slice the bell pepper, chop the kale and mince the garlic into a paste. Set aside.
Add the balsamic vinegar and honey to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until liquid reduces by about half and is slightly syrupy. Remove the balsamic from the heat add the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, mashed garlic paste and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and add to a large serving bowl. To the bowl add the sliced peppers, chopped kale, basil, oregano, pepperchinis, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, pine nuts and mozzarella. Add half the dressing and toss well. Taste and add the remaining dressing if desired. Sprinkle with blue cheese and serve warm or at room temperature.
And since this is a salad, it is perfectly acceptable to eat bowl after bowl. Yes!