Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ultimate Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

A photo posted by Höķm Guerrerø (@revmcnasty) on
This is my first post in a few months.  We have been cooking up a storm in our house, but nothing original.  For my birthday I got a great cookbook, The Complete Vegetarian, and we have been working our way thru that doing about 3 recipes a week.  Today I felt inspired with items in our fridge and put this together.

for the salad
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, quartered so they lie flat
1 head of broccoli cut into bite-sized florets
1 15 oz can of artichoke hearts, chopped
1 4 oz can of black olives, sliced
1.5 cups of good mozzarella (not the kind in water), cut into half inch cubes
1 12 oz box of tri-color rotini, cooked to your liking and cooled

for the dressing
roasted tomato "drippings" (with garlic pieces)
1/5 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/5 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of mustard (dijon works fine, but I like a horseradish mustard for this)
3 teaspoons mayo

  1. Turn on your broiler after adjusting the rack to be about 6 to 8 inches from heat source.  On my oven that is the second from the top.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, tomato past, brown sugar, pepper flakes and garlic.  Wisk together and then fold in the tomatoes to coat.  Place tomatoes on a small, lined, sheet tray and put under broiler for about 15 minutes.  The tomatoes will burst and the sugars of the dressing will cause a nice black caramelization.  When the tomatoes are done, remove the tray from oven and let cool.
  3. On a second larger, and lined, sheet tray add the peppers and place under broiler - skin side up - until the skin chars, about 8 minutes.  Place the blackened peppers into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  This will steam the peppers and make the skin extra easy to remove once they are cooled.
  4. Place all the broccoli on the sheet tray that you removed the peppers from and place that under the broiler.  Cook until the broccoli has a slight char, but not burned.  About 8-10 minutes.  Keep a close watch, because they go from perfect to overdone pretty quickly.
  5. Once the tomatoes are cool use a slotted spoon and carefully place the tomatoes in a bowl for later.  Make sure to shake off any "juice" onto the sheet tray.  Once all the tomatoes are removed, pour the "juice" and any roasted garlic bits into a small jar with lid (an old Grey Poupon jar works nicely). This will be the base for your dressing. 
  6. Remove the skin from the roasted peppers and slice into strips, or pieces...  Whatever you like: it's your salad.
  7. In a large bowl combine the pasta with the cooled roasted vegetables, mozzarella, artichokes and olives.
  8. Combine dressing ingredients in the jar that already has the "drippings".  Close lid tightly and shake for about 30 seconds to combine everything.  Pour on the salad.  Let salad sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.  Make sure to stir the salad well before serving as the juices will have set on the bottom.