Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Southwest Pasta Salad

Lately I'm the queen of looking at a recipe, saying, "This would be awesome in that" then making it happen. There's this dressing in the Our Best Bites cookbook that I make probably once every 3 weeks.  This dressing is like the nectar of the Gods.  You could put it on a shoe and it would be good.  I was browsing their site today and ran across a corn salad that uses the blessed dressing, and I thought it would be so great to switch it up a little and add some pasta.  I was right.

Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites


(for the dressing)
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice (from 2-3 juicy limes)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 cup vegetable oil (plus possibly 1/4 cup more)

(for the salad)
1/2 pound small, bite-sized pasta - cooked al dente
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium red onion, diced small
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and very finely diced
2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh corn
5 oz cotija cheese, diced or crumbled

Cook pasta according to package directions, only to al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, Make the dressing.  To make the dressing, combine all ingredients except the oil into the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse a few times until the garlic is finely chopped.  Add cilantro.  Pulse again.  With the food processor on, slowly pour the oil into the food processor until the dressing is completely emulsified.  When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add dressing while pasta is still hot.  Stir. After the salad has cooled, add the remaining salad ingredients and stir again.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, if the salad is too dry, add oil, 1 tbsp at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.  (You may not need any additional oil; however, since you're putting the dressing into the hot pasta, the pasta will absorb some of the liquid). 

The salad can be made a day ahead.  Simply store the pasta mixed with the dressing in an airtight container, then add the rest of the ingredients about 30 minutes before serving.

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