Garden Pasta Salad
Pasta Salad....garden fresh!!
This pasta salad recipe utilizes the garden fresh zucchini we find abundantly in our gardens, along with fresh basil and tomatoes. It's a pasta salad that is tastiest when freshly made. It won't be served hot -- just warm -- and all the flavors will come bursting through!
The key to getting the most out of your easy-to-grow zucchini, is to check plants daily and pick while it is small and tender, without spongy pulp and large seeds. Be sure to look under the large leaves of the plant -- zucchini are known to hide there. You will love adding these tender veggies to pasta salads, soups, or spiralizing and using in a variety of meal options (try freshly made tomato basil sauce, served over spiralized zucchini!). Take caution to not overcook zucchini to retain maximum flavor and texture. It will take only a few minutes to saute.
Whenever I cook a pasta dish, I load it up with fresh veggies! Here is the recipe:
Garden Pasta Salad
When choosing your ingredients, use home-grown, grass-fed and organic ingredients whenever possible.
1 lb pasta of your choice (e.g., Montebello penne, bowtie, chiocciole) - about 4 cups uncooked
1 TBSP olive oil
2-3 small zucchini (2 cups), halved and sliced in ¼” slices
3 cups baby spinach, loosely packed, then rough cut into ¾” pieces (½ of a 5 oz pkg)
1 lb extra lean hamburger, cooked and crumbled
4-6 Roma tomatoes, seeded & cut in ½” - ¾” chunks (2 cups)
2 TBSP garlic, freshly pressed (approx 8-12 cloves, depending on size)
6 TBSP olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed for best taste and nutrition)
2-4 TBSP fresh basil, finely chopped (or 2 TBSP dried basil)
1 - 8 oz. pkg Feta cheese, crumbled
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt (or more if desired)
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
Begin heating water for pasta. Check directions on package for length of time to cook and choose lesser time to make al dente ("firm to the tooth") pasta. When pasta is done, drain in colander and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, prepare zucchini, spinach and tomatoes as described above. Set aside.
Using a garlic press, press garlic. Set aside. Chop basil. Set aside.
Heat skillet on moderate heat, add 1 TBSP olive oil and sauté zucchini for 2-3 minutes (not more). Add spinach and sauté for 1 minute (not more). Remove from pan and set aside. Cover with a lid or inverted plate to keep warm.
Using the same pan, cook hamburger until done.
In a very large bowl, add 6 TBSP olive oil and the basil. Stir together. Next add the warmed pasta and mix with the basil. Stir in the veggies and the hamburger, tossing lightly. Lastly, stir in the tomatoes and the Feta cheese. Serve immediately. Delicious served on a bed of fresh greens, or with a green salad on the side, or fresh garlic bread.
This recipe makes 12 cups of pasta salad and serves a large group, so it is nice to take to picnics or to family gatherings. For smaller families, cut the recipe in half. Leftovers store well, so you will enjoy this on the second and third day as well!
When you make pasta salad, load it up with veggies!