I love a creamy pasta salad, and with lots of veggies springing forth from the garden, summer is a great time for them. The majority of recipes you find are pretty heavy though, with mayonnaise or sour cream based dressings. I wanted something lighter and brighter, and came up with this excellent yoghurt powered lemon dressing.
There’s no real magic here, just a very nice combination that blends the brightness of lemon with the mouth feel of good yoghurt, and a touch of umami from garlic and fish sauce. With balanced sweet and tart, and a hint of backbite from the pepper, it compliments whatever you pair it with.
Pasta salad should be made with good stuff – so so leads to meh, otherwise – I t’s worth a splurge on a bag of high quality, local dry pasta. You want something short, that picks up easily and affords a good opportunity for the other ingredients to be there in every forkful, (spoon, in my case). Ridges are a must as well – they’ll hold onto the dressing better.
You can add whatever you like, of course. Celery, tomato, onion, sweet pepper, carrots, chives, and thyme were all available fresh as they can be, so we went with that, along with good olives, a little hard sausage, and an amazing five year old cheddar Casey made. Use what you love and have before you – the palette will always be changing.
Of course, you can leave out the meat and cheese and have an excellent vegetarian offering.
For the Pasta Salad
1 Pound Dry Pasta1/4 Cup of Hard Salami
1/4 packed Cup Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 Sweet Onion
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1-2 fresh Tomatoes
1-2 fresh Carrots
2 stalks fresh Celery (with leaves)
5-6 fresh Chives
2-3 stems fresh Thyme
3 finger pinch Salt
10-12 twists fresh ground Pepper
Add the pasta to plenty of well salted, boiling water. Boil until al dente, then drain through a colander.
Give the pasta a quick rinse with cold water, then drizzle with roughly a tablespoon of oil and toss to coat evenly.
End trim, peel and dice onion.
Top trim, and trim inner white membrane, then dice bell pepper.
End trim, gut and dice tomatoes.
End trim and cut carrots as you prefer, anything from rounds to dice.
Remove tops with leaves, and white bottoms from celery stalks. Carefully slice stalks lengthwise so you can dice.
Select 3-4 good sized leaves, roll tightly, and chiffenade cut them, (cut across the rolled leaves in roughly 1/8” widths)
End trim and fine dice chives.
Dice salami and cheese.
Starting at the top of the thyme sprigs, gently rub down the stem with 2 fingers, removing the leaves. Toss stems.
Combine all ingredients and toss to thoroughly incorporate, then dress. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, refrigerated, so everything can marry.
For the Dressing
3/4 Cup Avocado Oil, (Olive or Canola are fine too)
1/2 Cup Whole Milk Plain Greek Yoghur
1/3 cup fresh Lemon Juice
3 cloves Garlic
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1-2 teaspoons Honey
Zest from 2 small Lemons
2 finger pinch Sea Salt
6-8 grinds Black Pepper
3-4 drops Red Boat Fish Sauce
Zest, grate and juice lemons.
Smash, end trim, peel and mince garlic.
Combine all ingredients, but start with 1 teaspoon of honey, then add more if desired.
Let it sit for 15 minutes, taste test, and adjust balances as desired, then refrigerate and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before deploying.
Best used fresh. Knockout the next day.