Thursday, September 1, 2011

Santa Fe Pasta Salad

Southwest pasta salad

The other day, I bought corn from a the back of a truck in a bar parking lot. Weird, I know-but it seemed as though every day, I would see a farmer with a pick up truck heaped with corn. Curious to see what the corn was like, Kevin and I chose to go buy some. As we talked to the farmer we learned that the corn was from Chilliwack, and hauled all the way to the Sunshine Coast. He did a roaring business, too-selling out almost every day of an entire truckload.

After tasting the corn, I could see why! Juicy and sweet, it was the best corn I have ever tasted. While it was a little more expensive than the grocery store, it was still affordable and we will certainly be back to pick up some more.

This pasta salad is the best one that I have tasted in a long time. Smoky chipoltes add a little heat, while salty feta and roasted corn gives you some texture. Leftovers are fantastic and I daresay that this would be perfect in a lunchbox. Don't be scared off by the initial fiddly bit with roasting the peppers and corn, it's easy and the flavor is totally worth it.

Adapted from Rebar

2 red peppers, roasted
4 cloves garlic, roasted
2 tsp chipolte puree* (see note below)
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
3/4 cup olive oil

4 cups dry fusilli pasta
3 cups corn, fresh or frozen, roasted (*see below!)
4 tbsp minced fresh sage
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 oz candied salmon, smoked salmon, or you can throw in some chick peas
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper

First, make your dressing. Blend the roasted peppers and garlic in a food processor until smooth, then add the chipolte puree, shallot, maple syrup, salt, rice wine vinegar, and lime juice. Process a bit to mix it up. Then, with the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. The mixture will emulsify while you pour (become thick-yum!) Set aside.

Roast your corn! (directions below)

Cook your pasta according to package directions until it's el dente. Drain, run under cold water, and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, assemble the other ingredients so that everything is ready to toss together once the pasta is cooled. When the pasta is ready, toss it with some dressing in a large bowl until well coated. I used all the dressing, you may decide to use more or less. Add the corn, salmon, sage, and green onions, toss some more. When you are serving, garnish the salad with the tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta. I liked to have a little more feta on mine so put some extra feta on the side for those who like lots of cheese.

Makes 6-8 servings

*chipolte peppers are smoked jalapeno peppers. You can buy them canned in the Mexican food section. They usually come packed in abodo sauce. Chipoltes have a smoky flavor and are really quite hot, and add a little mild heat to this recipe. To make the puree, just buy a can, whiz it up in a food processor, then fill your ice cube tray with the puree and freeze. Transfer the cubes to a ziplock bag and stash in your freezer. The chipolte puree can be added to hummus, salad dressings, sauces, soups, etc. Be careful, it's pretty spicy!

*roasted fresh corn is the best in this recipe, but you can use frozen if it's all you have. Cut the kernels off the cob and toss with 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Spread onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast in a pre-heated 375 F oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before proceeding with recipe.
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