Here in Chicago we’re getting teased with summer-like weather. There’s many things I crave in summer – pasta salad being one of them. It just screams backyard barbecue! And while this sunny, flip-flop weather probably won’t last long, let’s think like it will and therefore eat like it will.
In my just-published Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen, there is a dynamite recipe for pasta salad with a creamy dressing. The salad serves as a main dish or side dish, keeps well refrigerated and travels well. The success of that salad led me to develop a second pasta salad, this time with a vinaigrette dressing. The Parmesan Vinaigrette Dressing, like a Caesar salad dressing, is a versatile, stand-alone recipe that works as a marinade and a salad dressing.
The secret to a good gluten-free pasta salad is to make sure all ingredients are well-drained and dry. The secret to this salad is convenience: frozen vegetables that are pre-blanced, purchased shredded cheese, cooked ham (feel free to use leftover ham), and canned black beans.
The Parmesan Vinaigrette reminds me of Caesar salad dressing and I often use it on Romaine lettuce with shaved Parmesan and gluten-free croutons. The blender makes it easy to prepare and creamy. Refrigerate any unused dressing and be sure to whisk well to emulsify before serving.
- 1 pound brown rice pasta shells (preferably Tinyaka)
- 1 (16-ounce) package frozen peas and carrots, defrosted in package
- 1 (9-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, defrosted in package
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (7 to 8-ounce) cooked ham steak, diced ¼-inch
- 2 green onions, sliced crosswise paper thin
- ¾ cup Parmesan Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
- 1 (8-ounce) package (2 cups) coarsely shredded sharp cheddar, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste, optional
- Cook pasta in 6 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Spread pasta out on a tray lined with several thicknesses of paper toweling. Reserve for 20 minutes.
- Spread defrosted corn and peas and carrots on a tray lined with several thicknesses of paper toweling. Reserve for 20 minutes.
- Spread black beans on a large plate lined with several thicknesses of paper toweling. Reserve for 20 minutes.
- In a 4-quart bowl combine pasta, corn, peas and carrots, black beans, ham and green onions. Add Parmesan vinaigrette. Using silicone spatulas toss well. Add 1 cup of the cheese and toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
- To serve, toss well to distribute dressing. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste . Toss again and serve. Accompany with a bowl of remaining cheese for garnishing, and extra dressing.
- ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
- ¾ cup canola or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Use immediately or cover and refrigerate. If dressing settles when chilled, whisk to emulsify before serving.
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