Thrifty Thursdays: Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad

It wasn't easy (ok, maybe it was) but I managed to create a meal sans mushrooms or Mexican flare! With spring in full swing, and summer weather making frequent cameo appearances, I wanted to share a tasty spin on a potluck-picnic classic. By combining some pasta-salad basics with a few gourmet touches, I've created an unexpectedly, unpretentiously, unbelievably delicious portable feast for the senses! Get the blanket, frisbee, and wine coolers ready, and set out for a perfectly lazy, homemade, lunch in the park!

Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
$10 makes 8+ servings

1lb Penne pasta
1 tsp olive oil
1/2c each, green & red bell pepper
1/2c red onion, chopped
1 med. Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 small can, sliced black olives
2 cloves garlic, minced
1c mayo
1/2c shredded parmesan
1c smoked mozzarella, cubed
1/4c white vinegar
1/2 lemon
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste
1/4c chopped fresh parsley

optional additions: 1/2c  frozen (cooked) spinach, chopped and/or 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

1. Cook pasta al dente, drain well (rinse with cold water to retain shape), return to pot. Add olive oil and smoked mozzarella cheese, stir until melted. (you may need to keep it on low heat)
2. Add mayo, vinegar, cayenne, salt, pepper, onion, garlic. Stir well. Remove from heat.
3. Add the bell peppers, (spinach, artichokes), then tomatoes and olives.
4. Toss with parmesan, parsley, and juice from 1/2 lemon. Serve hot (Dan's fave) or cold (my fave!) with a refreshing summery beverage (vodka lemonade, anyone?)


love my OXO hand chopper!

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