Monday, July 23, 2012

Jessie's Famous Spinach Pasta Salad

Back when I lived in Bellingham, I would often treat myself to Haggen's Spinach Pasta Salad from thier deli counter. Then one day I decided I would try to make it myself. It seemed so simple, I figured I could give it a go. After some research online to get an idea of where to start, and I came across the actual recipe! I was so surprised and excited to be able to make this salad myself whenever I wanted.

Spinach Pasta Salad

For the Pasta:
5 cups (1.5 pounds) rotini pasta
3 cups raw baby spinach
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

For the Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup golden balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook pasta by package directions until al dente; rinse with cold running water to cool. Don't overcook, as the pasta will break apart and be mushy. Drain well. Place in refrigerator to chill in large mixing bowl.
  2. For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together well in a separate bowl.
  3. When pasta has chilled, combine dressing with the pasta. Add spinach, cheese and nuts. Mix gently.
  4. This will serve eight people as a side dish and four people as a main course.
I've got all my ingredients ready to mix up.
Fresh pine nuts; it is really, really easy to burn the pine nuts. So I toast them first, never letting my eyes leave their sight. I have burned way too many pans of these expensive little nuts!
Perfectly toasted pine nuts.
Spinach, pine nuts, and cheese; all we need now are the noodles and the dressing.
I measure all the dressing ingredients into the same measuring cup. Doing this cuts down on dishes and I can mix and pour the dressing from the same container.
All mixed together and ready to eat! When I can't find the correct kind of noodles, I like to get noodles with lots of curves that will hold the dressing nicely.
I made this batch of salad at my mom house before the James Family Picnic and I found muffins in the dishes cupboard. I guess she was rushed to get cleaned up for the party and had to find a home for these two quickly. I thought it was funny.
 My Tips and Tricks:

When I am running short on time, I will rinse the cooked pasta in cold water until they are cooled. This way I can skip having to put the pasta in the fridge.

When traveling, I will cook the pasta and mix the dressing ahead of time. I keep the cooked pasta in one container and the dressing in another container. I mix the salad, cheese, and pine nuts in a third container. Then when I reach my destination, I mix all three containers together.

This is a great item for camping trips because everything can be made of head time and mixed together on site. I will mix everything together in Ziploc bags, cutting down on my dishes. Although you do have to remember to pull the dressing out of the cooler long enough in advance to let it thaw. The ice in the cooler can make the dressing more solid.

Sometimes I add diced chicken to make this salad a one dish dinner.

When making enough of this salad to last for several dinners, I will leave out the spinach. I wait to add the spinach until I have served up a bowl of the salad. I do this each night, adding enough spinach to my serving for the meal. This way the spinach won't wilt between meals.

1 comment:

  1. Yummy! I wonder if it would taste as good with whole wheat pasta? I might have to try...