Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you live, but down here in Nashville, it is beautiful outside. Gone are the days of 100 degree weather and extreme humidity. In their place are clear blue skies and lovely 80 degree days and 60 degree nights. Basically, the weather right now is perfect. And perfect weather demands spending lots of time outside. We’ve been hiking, playing tennis, and selecting restaurants based on their patios. (If you live in the area, the patio at Rosepepper Cantina in East Nashville is one of our warm weather favorites!)

Weather like this is also perfect for cookouts and picnics. Today’s recipe for Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad would be a great addition to any outdoor meal. It’s colorful, flavorful, and easy to put together. You can use any small pasta shape you happen to have in your pantry. I used Israeli couscous because it’s what I had on hand. The little pearls were a fun change from the more commonly used salad pastas. Juicy fresh tomatoes, tangy banana peppers, creamy Monterey Jack cheese, and salty salami and capers round out the dish and make it a fun, different on traditional pasta salad.

Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light

8 oz. uncooked Israeli couscous or other small pasta shape
2 1/4 cups plum tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup sliced jarred banana peppers
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 oz. salami, chopped
15 oz. can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced (or more to taste)
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. salt (use 1/4 tsp. if using kosher salt or sea salt)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl combine all of the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.

Gently stir in the pasta until well combined. (A rubber spatula works well for this.)

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side dish.

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