Twisted Favorites…

Last night I prepared a new twist on an old favorite… pasta and salad…

Let it be known that there are days when I just don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen. A shocker, I know, but it’s true!!! For days like this, I always keep some pasta and jarred red sauce in the pantry. There’s no better way to put a smile on a weary face, than to make dinner in no time by boiling a pot of water and zapping some sauce. 😀 The salad is optional. 😉

For last night’s feast, I decided to take this easy peasy dinner and make it twisted. >:] Ok, so maybe not twisted, but certainly with an added twist.

For the twist on my usual salad, I drew my inspiration from a salad we used to get from a deli called Cosi. I did my best to recreate the ‘signature salad’, a salad with fruit, greens, and a shallot vinaigrette. For the pasta, I added artichoke hearts and capers. It was a great meal. Some tweaks are still needed on the homemade salad dressing, but overall, we had a great dinner!

Last night, I made the salad dressing the quick & dirty method… gather the ingredients, blend, serve. It was good, but I felt I could make it better. It is still good when you are short on time, just keep in mind that quick & dirty = more onion bite.

So tonight, I decided to try it a bit different… to kind of ‘pickle’ the shallot in the vinegar. I let the shallot soak in the vinegar for 2 hours before combining it with the rest of the ingredients. Much better. It took that onion bite away, while still retaining the shallot flavor. Very good.

Now if I am absolutely honest with myself, I think I could make it even better with some more trials. One of the things that I feel the dressing needs is a bit of sweet, luckily the signature salad is full of sweet fruits and so the current version works very well. But if I were to use this dressing on a different salad, I might not feel the same way. I hope to keep tweaking this one, but in the meantime, if you feel so inclined to duplicate what I’ve done here, both the quick & dirty and the pickling version work very well with the signature salad. 😀

Here’s what I did…

First I made the salad dressing… Cosi uses a salad dressing called ‘sherry shallot vinaigrette’. I searched the web and came across this recipe.

For the quick & dirty method:
I made minor modifications…

    sliced shallot
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1/3 cup red wine vinegar (I did not have sherry vinegar)
    salt and pepper
    1 tsp Dijon mustard

Gather the ingredients for the dressing… olive oil, canola oil (not pictured), red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, dijon mustard, shallot…

I chopped up the shallot and then blended it well in the magic bullet…

Then I added the rest of the ingredients, and blended until well emulsified…

I put it in a squeeze bottle, and set it aside…. (hoping the raw shallot would tone down a bit)…

For the pickled version:

    sliced shallot
    1/3 cup sherry vinegar
    salt and pepper
    1 tsp Dijon mustard
    1 cup olive oil

I put the sliced shallot in the sherry vinegar and let it marinate for 2 hours…

Then I combined all the ingredients into the magic bullet and blended until well emulsified…

For the pasta:

I put a pot of water on to boil… then I set about to make the pasta sauce… I combined the jarred red sauce (I prefer Newman’s Own – Sockarooni) added some capers and a jar of marinated artichoke hearts (drained)…

I let it simmer the amount of time it took the water to boil and the pasta to cook…

Now let’s have some fun

Gather the ingredients for the salad… mixed greens, spinach, red grapes, pear, pistachios, and dried cranberries…

I measured out some greens…

chopped the pear, halved the grapes…

then placed all the salad ingredients into a large container with a lid. I added about 1/4 cup of salad dressing and shook well…

Soon the pasta was ready, and so I drained it and then added the red sauce to the pasta…

Served out the salad… 1st course…

Don’t forget the french baguette…

Then we consumed some pasta… 2nd course…

I asked my taste-tester which of the two dressings he liked… he said, yes.

So I asked which one did he like better. He said, the pickled one. I’d have to agree. 😀

Twisted favorites… oh yeah. Awesome dinner.

Until next time…
~nic

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