I'll admit saying a pasta salad is light is a bit of an oxymoron but this one truly is lighter than most. The idea came from our friends at Family Circle, a trustworthy source that's been in publication since way back in 1932. Imagine the changes they've seen in North American kitchens during that period of time?
Hit the link to see the official version of the recipe although as you'll see, I changed it somewhat to account for our love of stronger flavored food. Hey, isn't that what creative cooking's all about?
Made from grilled vegetables including red and green bell peppers and sweet onion, I added some mini yellow and orange sweet bell peppers too for more color - not that it needs it, just that I had 'em. I also switched out their recommended mild pork sausage links to include hot Italian sausage links that have an unbelievable flavor when cooked on a grill. Incidentally, I used the indirect method for that otherwise we'd have needed a fire extinguisher (not saying we almost didn't, so be careful, OK?)
I mixed in some sun dried tomatoes for their slightly sweet flavor, freshly grated parmesan cheese for more of an Italian twist and red pepper flakes for a touch of heat, and added the fresh basil directly to the salad instead of putting it in the dressing. Oh, I cut back on the amount of pasta too (radiatorre instead of fiori) so the salad had just a few less carbs than it would have otherwise.
The pasta's tossed with a light slightly sweet vinaigrette - unusual because of it's 1 to 1 oil to vinegar ratio which is likely the reason it has the illusion of being lighter; however, as you'll see, we topped our servings with a dollop of the herb aioli we had the other day. It was a perfect addition but not totally necessary.
While this salad is fine served cold, in my opinion it's best warm so don't sweat it if you haven't made it too far in advance, although you could cook the pasta in advance, mix it with the dressing and hold it in the fridge to add the other stuff hot off the grill. It's a lovely summer dinner along with a glass of wine, and it will be a super addition to the menu for your next buffet too.
Pasta Salad with Grilled Sausage and Peppers (from JBug’s Kitchen adapted from Family Circle)
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Combine ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake to mix well. Set aside.
10 ounces pasta (I used radiator)
1 sweet onion, cut into half inch slices
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut in quarters
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut in quarters
4 mini sweet bell peppers, left intact
2 large links Hot Italian sausage
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Salt and coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta per package directions and drain well. While pasta is hot, mix with half the dressing and set aside. Grill onions and peppers on hot grill until charred on all sides – about 8 to 10 minutes. Coarsely chop into large pieces and add to pasta. Turn off heat on one side of the grill and reduce heat on the other side to medium. Place sausages on the side of the grill that has been turned off, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until done, turning several times to prevent from burning. Cool sausage for 5 minutes, then slice into “coins” and add to pasta along with sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil. Toss in remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Garnish with parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
A year ago - Strawberry Daiquiri Frozen Yogurt
Two year's ago - Stromboli Mexicana