Thursday, June 30, 2011

Creamy Parmesan Pasta Salad

Before going to my daughter's house for dinner, I asked what could I bring. She replied, "A good pasta salad."  I can count on one hand the times I have made a pasta salad... and while they got eaten, I didn't think that they were all that good!  Thankfully I had my latest issue of Food Network Magazine and they had an article on pasta salads. It was a handy article to have as they gave you a list of different combinations that worked well together and three different dressings to choose from... seriously folks, the combinations are endless!  I went with using roasted red peppers and broccoli in my pasta salad. My daughter and husband highly approved and so I guess I finally found a "good" pasta salad I could make!
The secret to adding broccoli to a salad is blanching it.  I used to never take the time to do it, but once I started to do so it made a big difference in my salads.  Not only does blanching give your broccoli a nice vibrant color, but it also gives it a nice crunch.

How to blanch broccoli:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. The water should ideally taste faintly salty.
Fill a large bowl with water and ice. Make sure to leave enough room for the broccoli to comfortable fit.
Once the water has reached a boil, put the broccoli into the pot and allow it to boil for 3 minutes

Remove the broccoli from the pot and put it directly into the ice water, making sure the broccoli is covered with the water completely.  Drain and use.

Creamy Parmesan Dressing

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon finely grated garlic
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
            Combine all the dressing ingredients together except the parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pasta salad
1/2 pound pasta of your choice ( I used small bow ties) 1 cup broccoli florets,
1 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced.

Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.  Combine ingredients and pour creamy parmesan dressing over; toss gently to cover pasta.  Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and toss again.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and serve.

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