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Pasta Salad with Peas and Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

June 15, 2012

I’ve never been a pasta salad person.  Sorry, that’s incorrect.  I used to not be much of a pasta salad person, but after discovering this pasta salad and then, shortly after, my grandmother-in-law and mother-in-law’s macaroni salads, I probably qualify as a convert.  I’m still suspicious of the kind that looks like you mixed an entire jar of mayonnaise with overcooked pasta.

This pasta salad is surprisingly crowd-pleasing, considering it uses a vinaigrette, which often causes at least a few people at a party to turn up their nose – or at least turn away.  In fact, a couple of years ago, I made this pasta salad for a potluck event held by my little brother’s Boy Scout troop.  That’s right, Boy Scouts.  Boys ranging from about 12 – 18 and their families (read: lots of even younger kids).  And you know what?  This stuff moved like hotcakes.  I don’t even think there were any leftovers, which I remember being a little disappointed about.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 cup roasted red pepper vinaigrette (which takes about an hour and a half or so to make, though with little more than 5 minutes active prep time)
  • 1 pound of small shaped pasta
  • 1/4 lb snow pea pods (frozen will work, but fresh is better)
  • 1/2 lb summer peas, shelled, or 1 cup frozen peas (fresh is better)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

If using fresh vegetables: Prepare an ice bath for the peas, filling a medium bowl with cold water and adding plenty of ice.  Salt the water once it’s boiling and throw in snow pea pods, boiling them for two minutes – they should be cooked and very slightly tender but not soft.  Do not turn the burner off.  Remove the snow pea pods with a slotted spoon and place them in the ice bath.   Cook the peas for ten minutes, remove them with the slotted spoon, and place them in the ice bath.  After a few minutes, drain the peas and pea pods.  Using kitchen shears (or thoroughly sanitized, very sharp scissors), cut the pea pods into thin slivers, discarding the ends.

Pour the pasta into the boiling water and cook it until it is al dente.  Drain the pasta and peas and peapods simultaneously in a colander and run cold water over them for a minute.  Return the entire mixture to the pot, add the vinaigrette, and toss until it is well-mixed.

If using frozen vegetables: Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt and the pasta.  While the pasta is boiling, cut the frozen pea pods into thin slivers, discarding the ends (I was able to do this easily, because my pea pods came in a bag rather than in tightly compacted in a box, so they did not stick together.  You may need to defrost them a little bit if they come in a box).  When the pasta is three minutes shy of al dente (it is easiest to calculate using the times printed on the box unless you live at altitude), add the frozen peas.  After another minute and a half, add the snow pea pod slivers.  Cook for another minute and a half, then drain in a colander, running cold water over the mixture.  Return to the pot, add the vinaigrette, and toss until well-mixed.

For either method, store the pasta in the fridge.  If you’re not serving it within a few hours, you may want to wait to add the vinaigrette until you’re ready to serve it, as after several hours in the fridge, the pasta starts to absorb the vinaigrette and the salad becomes drier.  This is the reason the pasta pictured at the top of this post is a little dry looking, though that’s also because my food processor is behaving badly lately, so my vinaigrette was not as smooth as it should be.

Picky Boy Scouts ate this

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