Friday, June 28, 2013

Grown Up Pasta Salad

Whenever July 4th comes along I always think of it as the kick off of the beach season.  In high school this is when I would pack up my car and drive down to Avalon on a Friday night staying at one my friends' homes that they had rented for the summer.  I was pretty lucky that on most weeks there was someone who had a house there.  Growing up as a kid, we would go to Avalon as a family too.  We'd rent a big house usually with my aunt and uncle and cousins.  Every morning we'd traditionally wake up to a grease stained bag of Kohler's donuts.  No matter where I get a doughnut,  no cream doughnut will ever live up to Kohler's donuts.

Later in life, I've transplanted my family in Boston.  I've quickly fallen in love with everything up here.  Last year was our first time spending time on the Cape and I loved the old classic charm of it.  It was so quaint and everywhere you went there were little towns and small donuts shops too.  My favorite things to get on the Cape are chocolate covered cranberries.  They are unbelievable.   The tart cranberry with a milk chocolate and also, that I found out by badgering the lady with questions, a hint of orange in it too.  When we vacationed in Nantucket for a week, I went through probably five full bags of these goodies.

This summer, we are going to Martha's Vineyard for a week, the rival island.  One anticipated spot may have doughnuts that will help satisfy my Kohler's doughnut cravings.  It's a small little place called Back Door Donuts that only sells doughnuts late into the evening.  The best part is that they come straight out of the fryer.  If you have never had a doughnut straight out of the fryer I suggest you run to this place to have one.  You will of died and gone to heaven.

Well, with all this greasy doughnut talk, what recipe would be better to counter balance our crazing than a lovely salad. I know...I'm disappointed too.  Today, I'm featuring a grown up spin on the typical pasta salads of your childhood.  No, it doesn't have alcohol in it, but it will be delicious none the less.  

Hope everyone has a great July 4th holiday!

Grown Up Pasta Salad

12 ounces of dried penne pasta (about 4 cups cook) 
2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered
1 medium cucumber, skinned, seeds removed, and diced into cubes
1 medium red onion diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano
4-6 cloves of garlic minced
kosher salt to taste
fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese (4 oz)

Cook pasta according to instructions.  I tend to leave mine a bit toothy but it's up to your preference.   Strain and place in colander in a ice bath to cool down. 

In a small bowl mix lemon juice, minced garlic, oregano, basil and olive oil until combined.

In a separate bowl combine chopped vegetables and toss to mix.  Add cooled pasta and toss until mixed.  Coat with the lemon juice olive oil mixture.  Top with crumbled feta cheese. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Make sure to not add feta cheese until the pasta is completely cooled.  You can cool the mixture without feta for two hours prior to serving then add feta right before guests arrive.

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