Spring has sprung pasta salad

Inspired by Chef Emeril Lagasse, who posted on his facebook a poll of what peoples favorite spring vegtable is. Well I took a lot of spring veggies and brought it together into this pasta salad. I love making this during the spring when it’s warm enough to fire up that grill. The salad is a bit on the salty side, expecially when you get olive and feta in one bite, but it’s very very good compaired to the normal boring cook out pasta salad. I like my salads a bit on the salty side.

Spring has sprung pasta salad (for a hungry crowd)

2-4 bell peppers diced
2-3 handfulls spinach
1 large jar marinated artichokes (juice reserved)
3 or 4 morel mushrooms
2 cans peas
1 leek
1 fennel bulb
chives for garnish
4 bunches asparagus Grilled
2 or 3 small containers feta cheese crumbles (if you like it cheesy throw it all in there)
12 inches worth of mozzarella string cheese (diced into chunks)
2 jars olives and 1 can (small pimento olives, large garlic stuffed olives, and 1 can black olives)
12 oz prosciutto
12 oz pancetta
3 pounds rotellini or penne pasta or equal amounts of both! (can even use that wacky mack stuff to make it interesting)
2 small cartons cherry tomatoes cut in half depending on size
1 bottle italian dressing or homemade italian dressing (recipe at end)
Dijon mustard
sweet gerkin relish
pepper relish
white wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar or lemon juice)

Slice morels, fennel, and leek, set aside. Dice pancetta, and place in a skillet and brown. About 3-5 minutes. Add sliced morels, fennel, leeks, diced prosciutto, diced peppers and spinach torn to peices. Cover and let cook 10 minutes stiring every few minutes, add a little oil if needed. The fennel should taste like celery more then liquorice yet still have it’s crunch, and spinach should be wilted. Once done remove and set aside. While morels, fennel, leeks, spinach and prosciutto is cooking, dice cherry tomatos in half and dice marinated artichokes. Remove morels, fennel, leeks, spinach and prosciutto from heat. Boil pasta 7-8 minutes. Cool.

Have the grill heated to a medium heat. Lay the asparagus out on cookie sheets and drizzle with 6 to 9 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil. Roll the spears back and forth so that the entire stalk is coated. Place the asparagus in a grill basket. Leave a bit of space between the spears, toss them onto the grill. Grill the asparagus for 5 or 6 minutes, turning them slightly every few minutes to provide even grilling. When the cool dice them into thumb sized peices, or you can cut them smaller.

In a large enamel granny ware pot combine pasta, asparagus, feta, mozzarella, tomatoes, peas, morels, artichoke, spinach, fennel and leek. Drain olives and wash in colander. Slice large garlic stuffed olives into 4ths, including garlic clove, slice black olives, and add pimento stuffed and all other olives into the pot. Add panchetta, prosciutto, and tomatoes. Toss gently with your bare hands. Set aside.

Dessing the pasta. This is a bit hard as I generally do not measure. So the below is a guestimation.

for 1 cup mayo, 1 tbsp mustard, 2 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp gerkin relish, 1 tbsp pepper relish. For each cup of mayo mix, add 1 cup italian dressing, or marinated artichoke juice reserved earlier. Mix pasta by hand until lightly coated to your preference. Wash your hands, serve with a spray bottle of lemon juice case the guests prefere more lemon.

Devil’s diamond italian dressing (spicy spin to italian dressing for the brave of heart)

About 3 and 1/2 cups when finished

1 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups corn oil (can use canola or vegtable oil too)
1 tsp trinidad scorpion oil (optional-recipe below)

In a blender or food processor, combine the sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, vinegar, water and garlic. Mix scorpion oil and corn oil. Cover and blend while drizzling in the oil(s) to form an emulsion.

Trinidad scorpion oil

10-12 small dried trinidad scorpions, such as 7 Pot or 7 Pod, or the regular trinidad scorpions. You want, roughly 2 tablespoons of course chopped flakes. (can use less spicer peppers if you want to keep hair on your chest.)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil or grapeseed oil (far more impressed with sesame oil)

Gloves and eye protection is a must.

Cut off the stems of the dried chilies and remove the seeds. Chop the chiles into coarse flakes (it’s easiest to do this by processing them in a blender for about 20 seconds). Place the chili flakes in a heat resistant jar with a seal. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat until it is starting to smoke. Continue heating the oil for 20 – 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. Wait 3 minutes, or until the oil has cooled to 225 – 240 degrees Fahrenheit

Pour the oil over the flakes. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil if using. Cool and strain the oil. Leave the chili oil for at least 1 hour to give the flavors a chance to blend (longer if adding sesame oil). Use as desired in recipes or as a dipping sauce with dumplings and noodles. Stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator, chili oil will last for at least one month.

3 comments on “Spring has sprung pasta salad

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