Monday, May 30, 2011

Fresh and Easy Pasta Salad

I love pasta salad! This dish can be served warm or cold. Today it will be served cold at our Memorial Day BBQ. It's much healthier than traditional macaroni salad- that's just pasta mixed with mayo and sugar. YUCK! There's still time to make this before your guests arrive. Give it a try!

1/2 lb whole wheat pasta (any style- today I am using ziti)
1/2 of a one-pound bag organic triple washed organic baby spinach leaves
1 cup jarred or canned artichoke hearts (NOT THE ONES PACKED IN OIL)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (NOT THE ONES PACKED IN OIL)
1/4 cup large black pitted olives
1.2 medium red onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon organic maple syrup
pinch of fresh or dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, gently remove the stems from the spinach leaves.  Chop the artichoke hearts and the sundried tomatoes. Don't leave them too big or make them too small-You want to taste them! Mince the onion.  Slice the olives into round slices- you can probably get 4 slices out of each olive.

About a minute before the pasta is cooked, add the baby spinach leaves to cook them slightly. Then, drain the pasta and spinach, set aside to cool.  Add all the other ingredients and toss gently.

Combine the olive oil and vinegar to a small bowl, add oregano and the maple syrup and whisk until blended.
Pour into pasta salad and toss again.  You might want to adjust the amount of vinegar- more or less, depending on your taste. Add extra salt and pepper if desired.

Chill for about an hour. Serve and enjoy.

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