Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Farmer's Cheese Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a great spring/summer dish. It's great for picnics and barbecues because it's so easy and it travels well (as long as there's no mayonnaise in it).

I recently discovered how amazing farmer's cheese is. It's an unripened, soft, creamy cheese that's similar to ricotta but it's a little saltier and not as firm. I decided to use it in my pasta salad but you can definitely substitute ricotta if you want something more mild, feta if you want something with a bit more bite, or omit it all together.

Ingredients [makes a big bowl, serves 6 to 8 as a side dish]:
1/4 lb short cut pasta (1/4 a box, I used tri-color penne)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes or whatever tomato looks really red and ripe)
1 cup baby bell peppers
2 scallions
1/2 lemon (for the juice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup farmer's cheese
salt & pepper to taste

**You can use any other vegetables you like and might have on hand, e.g. celery, cucumbers, baby spinach, red onion, etc.
I like to just combine all of the ingredients in a huge bowl. I like to cut the tomatoes in half to expose the insides so they can soak up some seasoning - plus, it makes it easier to pick up with a fork. I cut the bell peppers into bite sized pieces, chop up the scallions, and then squeeze the lemon over all of the vegetables. Be wary of seeds though! Then I add in some salt and pepper and toss gently before giving it a taste. Then I add in the olive oil and toss again until the vegetables are all shiny and pretty. Then I add in the cooked pasta, toss, and then lastly add in the cheese.
The tri-color pasta makes the whole dish super colorful and I think the cheese adds a nice creamy texture.

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