Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cold Pasta Salad

When I was in my undergrad in NZ we used to drop into the supermarket to pick up something simple for lunch when we were feeling lazy. The best things were the pizza scrolls from the bakery and the pasta salad from the deli. That, however, was a pricey way to get lunch so I was inspired to make my own version. The one that I remember most from the supermarket was amazing and full of flavour, with smoked chicken and some sort of vinaigrette. I'm not sure why I did not work harder on making the perfect vinaigrette but now I can't really remember what that salad tasted like, so instead I have re-visited the type of pasta salad that I used to make for an easy lunch or dinner. There were many different versions of this, most of which featured some sort of cooked meat, a can of tomatoes with some sort of flavouring or seasoning, some sort of vinegar and plain salad dressing. This time around I have decided not to be lazy and have made my own tomato mixture. I have left out the salad dressing because that sort of thing is very different over here to how it is at home. You also can't get smoked chicken over here, which is a shame because smoked chicken would be perfect in this.

Tomato and Chicken Pasta Salad

About 300 grams of some sort of pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 sweet red peppers (or normal bell pepper)
1 jar/container/packet/cup of chopped, sundried tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
1 can crushed tomatoes
Leftover cooked chicken or smoked chicken (as much as you like)

Begin by preparing the dressing. Heat the butter in a large sauce pan, then add the onion and cook it until it is very soft and translucent. Add the garlic and peppers and cook some more, until the peppers are soft. Actually,  now that I think about it, roasted peppers would be great in this so consider roasting them first.

Add the sundried tomatoes to the mix. I brought dehydrated sundried tomatoes this time around and ate one before I realised that they had to be rehydrated before they would taste good. So if you have dried ones like I did make sure to soak them in boiling water for half an hour beforehand, or soak them in olive oil overnight if you want them to be just like the ones brought in a jar.

Add the tomatoes, the vinegar and the herbs and check how it tastes. I added a little bit of brown sugar to mine when I was cooking the onions but I haven't added that to the recipe because a lot of people don't like the idea of adding sugar to their meals. There is nothing wrong with adding a bit of sugar to a tomato sauce but beware of adding too much!

Set the cooked tomato mixture aside and let it cool. In the meantime cook the pasta according the directions on the packet. I used really large shells but any pasta will be great. While the pasta cooks chop the chicken up.

To assemble your pasta salad simply mix everything together in a large bowl. I reckon that this would be good with some sort of cheese in there too - maybe some feta or something like that. If you like spicy things I would recommend adding a little chilli or sweet chilli sauce. You could sprinkle parmesan over top or serve it over a bed of leafy greens. But really, it's great the way it is and makes a great lunch or dinner on those days when you can't make it home in time for a proper meal.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jaimie,
    What a wonderful pics of Cold Pasta Salad you have here.
    Perhaps you're interested to submit your food photos on a food photography site that has tagline "Food Photography that will make you hungry" :)
    It's free to submit, free to join, and a lot of members can enjoy your creation!


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