Non-traditional pasta salad recipes needed.

Well, I’ve got a family reunion :shudder: on Sunday, we’re required to bring a casserole, salad or desert. I’m thinking of taking pasta salad for the potluck. I’d like some recipes tested by my Doper pals. I’m not looking for your average, run of the mill salad. I’d like to make something more creative, something pseudo-gourmet, but not necessarily expensive.

We’re Greek, so I’d like to incorporate some kalamata olives and feta cheese. Have you any recipes that I can play around with?

God, I hope someone brings some ouzo and retsina. I’m SO dreading this.

My favorite pasta salad involves tri-color rotini tossed with diced celery, red onion, and red bell pepper, halved grape tomatoes, shredded fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, lots of balsamic vinegar, oregano, dried red pepper flakes, a little salt and pepper, and as much parmesan cheese as you want. You could easily add chunks of feta instead of the parmesan, and the olives too (perhaps halved). I think that would go really well, actually. Just serve it well-chilled; it is very zingy and tangy and sweet thanks to the balsamic vinegar, and much more colorful and “gourmet” than a typical mayonnaise-based macaroni salad.

My aunt makes a pasta salad with spiral pasta, corn, plum or cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, and smoked salmon. There’s usually feta cheese sprinkled on top, so there you go. The dressing involves roasted red pepper, hot peppers and garlic… I can get the recipe, if you like?

I love Greek food like crazy. I’m extremely jealous of you. Try your best to have fun, but there’s nothing like ouzo if they make it impossible!

Mmmm. Thanks for the ideas! I should mention that I’ll probably end up taking bits and pieces of all your recipes and make it my own. Yeah, I’m a rebel.

Lou- Yours sounds great! Our family is partial to the super tangy Greek flavors. (you’d love my kopama with macaroni). And I’ll be sure to include the oregano, a definite Greek thing.

amaranta- I’d love to get the recipe for the dressing, if you don’t mind. I’m going to pass on the salmon, though. I’m tight on cash right now, plus not everyone would dig it. And I’ll probably replace the corn with cucumber.

Again, thanks very much!

Greek is by far my favorite cuisine. Easter is the best family dinner we have: roasted lamb, kopama, olives, spanakopita, Greek salad… yum.

Looks like you’ve got your recipe worked out, but let me throw in mine:

Tri-color pasta; a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, undrained; tomatoes; black olives; basil.

Super easy, super yum.

Oooh, artichoke hearts. Those are on the list now. :slight_smile: Thanks!

If you can check out the new york times online, this week’s dining section has three good pasta salad recipes.

I don’t have a recipe for this per se so you’ll have to guess at amounts. Basically, I saute asparagus in olive oil and garlic, then mix it with drained, cooled pasta with lots of fresh chopped basil, chopped sundried tomatoes (in oil, drained, but I usually put a bit of that oil in the pasta), feta, kalamata olives, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and sometimes fresh parsley if I feel like it.

Going to join the balsamic and red onion bandwagon here, but the orzo pasta is light and dainty enough to not overpower the rest of the ingredients(or other dishes) with stodge. Also served best at room temp, no mayo to spoil-a good potluck choice:

Black Bean & Orzo Salad
2c Cooked orzo
1 Chopped purple onion
¼ c pesto
¾ cup Black beans; drained 1
¼ c rice vinegar
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Olive oil
1 ts Pepper
3/4 ts Salt
2 Cloves garlic; minced
Combine orzo, pepper, onion, basil and beans; set aside. Combine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pepper, salt and garlic; mix well and toss with salad.

another that might fit the bill (no amounts, sorry–I just make what looks right)

baby greens
shelled walnuts
crumbled feta cheese
pasta shape of your choice
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
toast walnuts in (toaster) oven until crunchy and golden brown
cook pasta

combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss–and you’re done.

It’s both simple and delicious.

Thanks for your recipes and ideas, everyone. I’m off to the store!

Sorry, a bit late I see, but for anyone interested:

Aunt Karen’s Roasted Red Pepper Dressing:

[li]2 roasted red peppers[/li][li]4 roasted garlic cloves[/li][li]2 tsp. chipotle pepper puree*[/li][li]1 peeled chopped shallot[/li][li]2 tsp. maple syrup[/li][li]2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar[/li][li]2 tbsp. fresh lime juice[/li][li]3/4 cup olive oil[/li][li]salt, to taste[/li][/ul]

Peel and seed the roasted peppers. Blend the peppers, garlic, shallots, and chipotle puree in a food processor until smooth. Add the honey, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, and salt and blend. Slowly drizzle in the oil while the food processor is running. And you’re done!

*Buy a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and puree the contents. Refrigerate for up to one month. Use in anything and everything, chipotle is delicious!

Retsina? You have to make David Rosengarten’s greek chicken some time to go with it. (By the way, it includes feta and Kalamatas.)

For those who don’t know, Retsina is a wine that smells and tastes like turpentine. But, as David showed me, any wine can have a perfect food-match, and this is it.

A life-changing culinary experience for me.

Oslo- That recipe looks interesting. I’ll have to try it out when I’m feeling ambitious. Thanks for the link!

This is what I ended up with for the pasta salad:

multi-colored rotini
red onion
red bell pepper
artichoke hearts
kalamata olives
crappy cow’s milk feta (I didn’t have time to drive out to Kansas to get the good stuff)
grape tomatoes
fresh parsley

I cooked the pasta and dressed it lightly with balsamic & olive oil, salt & pepper, oregano, celery and onions while it was still warm. I figure the heat would mellow out the onions and ever so slightly soften the celery. I prepped the red onion and cucumbers (seeded and rough chop). I didn’t want the salt to leach out the water in the cukes or red pepper- don’t want to end up with a mess of pink juice at the bottom of the bowl.

I’ll halve the tomatoes, rough chop the artichokes and add more olive oil and balsamic this morning, a couple hours before the picnic. Just before we leave, I’ll fold in the feta and add seasonings if needed. It’ll end up a very tasty and pretty salad, I’m sure.

[off topic hijack]It’s quite possible that we’ll have a turnout of over a hundred people… relatives I’ve never met in my life. My mom dropped by last night to give us our Alexopoulos Family Reunion t-shirts. The shirts are printed with a wonderful old sepia tone portrait of my great grandparents with their nine children, ranging in age from 18 months to 18 years. They came out great![/OTH]

Thanks to all of you who helped me on this recipe. I do apologize that I didn’t use everyone’s ideas, but be assured that I will eventually try them out. :slight_smile:

Your final recipe sounds delicious (esp. the artichoke hearts :wink: ) – and it sounds like the reunion is going to be quite the event! Let us know how it goes… salad and reunion.

Just in case anyone is interested, here is the photo used on our shirts (I added the names, though). It was taken in 1934. Katherine is my grandma.

According to my mother, we’ll be subjected to traditional Greek music and dancing. And of course, many cries of “Opa!!!”

I’m almost getting excited about this. And I just had a sample of the pasta salad. Quite yummy. I got a little carried away… I made too much to put into my serving bowl, so I’ll have to take it in my big ass roasting pan!

The reunion went well, fun was had by all. There were 4 other pasta salads, but mine received more oooohs and ahhhs! The others were either swimming in dressing or dry and bland. HA!!! I was the winner of the pasta salad battle!

There was no ouzo or retsina, but somebody brought beer. My bro even brought a couple two liters of his home brew. Too bad I don’t like beer… But really, I didn’t need it. I genuinely had a good time.

Mom got a few of her cousins to join her in the Greek dance (oh the horror!), which proved to be quite entertaining. We had a water ballon toss, bingo (with fabulous prizes, even), badminton and croquet.

At the end of the day, we were all lethargic from the food and humidity. But it was nice all the same. :slight_smile:

It was the artichoke hearts.

Sounds like a whole lot of fun – glad you had a good time!