With the mild, spring like temperatures the east coast has been having as of late, Dan and I found ourselves itching for warm nights and barbecues. To settle our pangs for the Spring we decided to make a cold pasta salad earlier this week, paired with simple teriyaki chicken, grilled on Dan's beloved vintage Webber. (yes. Vintage. c. 1986. That boy is a sucker for a good grill.)
I have a feeling that this simple pasta salad is going to become a spring and summer barbecue staple in our little household. I think any sort of vegetable and pasta would work rather well, especially grilled asparagus and roasted red peppers. The key to it, and that which you must not skimp out on, is the quickly roasted tomatoes and the tangy Meyer lemon dressing. The slow roasted tomatoes do add a little bit more prep time than one would hope for, but if you do them in advance- say, the night or morning before- you are smooth sailing my friends. I decided to roast them that evening so I opted for a shortcut by slicing them into half inch slices, drizzling them with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Under a 400 degree oven, they should be roasted enough for your needs, in about 10 minutes. Because I was prepping all the other ingredients, I kept them in for at least a half an hour and they were tasty as can be.
Meyer Lemon, Asiago and Roasted Tomato Salad
1 lb. pasta shells, cooked and cooled
6-8 vine ripened tomatoes, roasted and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
Olives, pitted and chopped (we used a mixture of Spanish olives)
Asiago cheese, cubed (or a favorite that you might prefer)
1/4 onion, chopped (thinly shaved slices of red pepper would be divine in this, but there was no red pepper to be found in my refrigerator, sadly.)
Meyer lemon dressing (below)
For the dressing:
(adapted from the original recipe found here)
The juice and zest of four small Meyer lemons (approximately 4 Tablespoons) - if you do not have Meyer lemons on hand, regular ol'lemons will certainly do!
4 Tablespoons of Olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons of plain Greek yogurt (the original calls for mayonnaise)
2 teaspoons of dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
About a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, or to taste (I did not add much salt because the olives were salty enough)
Combine chopped vegetables with the cooled pasta in a large mixing bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together, pour over salad mixture and toss until combined. Chill until ready to serve. Serve over a bed of arugula or greens ....or eat directly out of the bowl! num num num.