Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pasta Salad with Roasted Fennel, Artichokes and Arugula

Pasta salad usually conjures up memories of mayonnaise laden elbow macaroni (with a dusting of paprika for color.. it was the 80's.. paprika was HUGE) that was served at every picnic, party or family reunion that I attended as a child. 

For all of you that know me on a personal level, store bought mayonnaise skeeves me out.  I don't know what it is about the stuff, I can't go near it with a ten foot pole.

Maybe its the fact that it jiggles when you shake it. 

So you can imagine how I feel about pasta salads made with mayo.


Then in the early 90's some random relative (or maybe it was my mom... sorry, mom) started making a vinaigrette based pasta salad.  I think it contained tri colored pasta, feta, black olives, and tomatoes.. maybe cubed ham (random), and it was oh so good. It instantly became one of my favorites.

A vinaigrette based pasta salad is a great thing to take to parties, potlucks and picnics. It's quick, easy and usually sits well at room temperature for awhile, which is probably why previously said unknown relative made this salad year after year.

Although I usually opt for a gluten free and vegan salad to bring to potlucks (thank you, quinoa), pasta salad is one of those familiar dishes that everyone seems to love. So I make it... and people eat it.

It's a win-win situation.

This pasta salad has alot going on...  Artichoke hearts, gigande beans (giant white beans packed in oil), roasted fennel, fresh herbs and some arugula all tossed with a simple vinagrette. Bring it to your next party or eat it in an air conditioned apartment watching back to back episodes of breaking bad.  Either way this salad is delicious.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Fennel, Artichokes and Arugula (makes enough for a parrrr-tay)

4 c. dry penne pasta
1 can artichokes, drained and rough chopped
1 fennel bulb, cut in 1/4" half moons
2 large handfuls baby arugula
1/2 c. gigande beans (opt.), chickpeas or cannelini beans would be a good substitute
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. fresh dill, chopped
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and cracked pepper

6 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 cloves grated garlic
4 t. dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cook penne in boiling salted water till al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again, then transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and toss with a spoon to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

Place sliced fennel in a small bowl. Toss with 2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Transfer to a sheetpan and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until fennel is soft and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Add the roasted fennel, artichokes, red onion, gigande beans, dill and parsley to the penne.
In a small jar combine the ingredients for the vinagrette. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds until well combined.  Pour the dressing over top and sprinkle with sea salt and lots of cracked pepper and toss to combine. 

Just before serving, gently fold in the arugula.

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