Monday, October 15, 2012

chopped salad verde

You probably get sick of me posting about Free State Brewery.  If you've ever eaten or drank there, though, you don't.  You understand.  It's magical.  It's home.

I posted the Cheddar Ale Soup awhile back.  I love that, especially as it gets cooler out.

My all-time favorite dish, though, is the chopped salad verde.  It's a pasta salad replete with fresh veggies.  It's really more of a spring/summer seasonal dish, but I love it all year.  The dressing is what makes it.  Totally different than any I've tasted elsewhere - sweet, but not cloying.  Tangy, but not sharp.  The chunks of avocado and cheese in the salad make it almost creamy to the taste.  I probably could have replicated it by taste, but I found the recipe printed on  So that means it's healthy too?

I try to avoid pasta as it's really just white flour dried into fun shapes.  Whole wheat pasta is okay, but it just feels like "health food," you know?  I've just never been able to really get into it.  The bite to it is not the same.  When I make this dish, I just go for it with the regular pasta.  No point in being such a fussbudget about food that you can't have what you really enjoy.

Chopped Salad Verde

1/2 C fresh or frozen sweet peas (thawed if frozen)
1 T dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 clove roasted garlic (I suppose you could use fresh, or garlic powder, but roasting garlic is easy and it is AMAZING - even just spread on crackers.  Just chop the top of a head of garlic, put it on a tinfoil square, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, and put in a 350 oven for an hour or so.  Once it's cool, squeeze the cloves out of the skin and use for anything!)
2-3 T chopped parsley
2 t salt
1/2 C white wine vinegar
1/3 C olive oil
1/4 C water, to thin dressing

1 C baby shell pasta, uncooked
2 ripe avocados, chopped (I will show you how I chop an avocado soon)
4 C spinach, chopped
2 oz grated Monterey jack cheese
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (or use cherry or grape tomatoes, halved - about 1 1/2 cups)
2 small carrots, julienned (cut into small matchsticks)

To make dressing, place all ingredients except olive oil and water in a food processor and blend well until combined.  Add oil slowly as processor is running.  Add as much water as you need to get to desired consistency.

Cook pasta until al dente.  While pasta cooks, chop and combine all remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Drain pasta and place under cool running water to chill it.  Add cooled pasta to the mixing bowl.    Add dressing (you might reserve a bit and see how well-dressed it looks), and serve immediately!

Serves 4-6, and the leftovers are stellar.

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