I have a new pasta salad recipe to share with you. It all started last month when I was starving and dropped by a local caterer, Tastefully Yours, to pick up some lunch. Staring inside the shop’s sparkling glass case, the large white bowl brimming with a penne pasta salad captured my attention. Eating the pasta in my car (No, I couldn’t wait until I got home!), my taste buds lit up from the salty accents provided by the sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and parmesan cheese; earthy undertones of the asparagus; peppery bite of the basil; plus the tangy artichoke hearts and rich, fruity EVOO.

I forgot about the pasta until last week, when I was shopping at the local farmers market in Pleasantville, NY. Strolling past the booths chock full of organic fruits, vegetables, cheeses, bread, honey, and jams, I happened upon the Pickle Licious stand. After buying a pint of semi-dill pickles (my husband, Bob loves them), I started examining their other merchandise. Who would’ve guessed that Pickle Licious also sells artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and black olives, the very pillar of the penne I’d had at Tastefully Yours? I bought small containers of each of these so I could concoct my own version of the pasta back home. Then I headed over to the supermarket to pick up some asparagus and whole-wheat penne.

Back at the house, I started boiling water for the pasta, then searched the kitchen and its environs for the other ingredients I needed, namely shredded parmesan from the frig and basil leaves from my plant on the back deck. Surveying the pantry, I decided some pine nuts would add a little crunch, and, after toasted, a nutty-smoky flavor. “Hmmm, and while we’re at it, a pinch of red pepper flakes, would impart a bit of heat,” I said to myself. Steamed asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces, plus roughly chopped olives, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes came next. For good measure, I added some fresh mozzarella, which I chopped into cubes.

SUNDRIED TOMATO ASPARAGUS PASTA SALAD

Serves 8

Ingridients

  • 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 3/4 cup artichoke hearts in oil
  • 3/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1/3 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup basil
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Boil water and prepare the pasta according to directions.
  2. Set up the steamer, fill the bottom with water, and bring to a boil. Trim the dry ends off of the asparagus. If the spears are thick, peel them lightly with a vegetable peeler. Place them in the top half of the steamer pan set. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus, or until asparagus is tender. Cut the asparagus into one-inch pieces.
  3. Roughly chop the artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and basil. Toast the pine nuts.
  4. Mix all the ingredients together and serve.