When the weather starts to warm up and the produce is flourishing, I get so excited to make fresh dinners highlighting the beautiful raw ingredients. Since it actually reached into the 80's this week, I decided to make a nice cool pasta salad one night.
Pasta salads are great because you get to use up whatever veggies you have on hand, maybe some cheese and some meat if you prefer - basically, there's no way to go wrong. And while I have made pasta salad with bottled dressing plenty of times in the past, I've recently been drawn to making my own dressings, especially on a pasta salad where the dish is a meal in itself.
The other night, I had an avocado on hand, perfectly ripe. At first I was going to just chop it up with the other veggies, and then I had one of those eureka! moments...
Pasta Salad with Avocado-Lemon Dressing
For the dressing:
1 large avocado, ripe
2-3 Tbs olive oil
The juice of 1 small fresh lemon
A pinch of salt & pepper, to taste
In a small food processor (I used my magic bullet), puree the dressing ingredients together. Adjust the amount of olive oil as you puree if you need more to make it combine into a nice thick creamy dressing. Also, feel free to back off on the lemon juice if you prefer your dressing less acidic.
2 cups of pasta (I prefer small shells or rotini for pasta salad)
Any chopped veggies you like (I used broccoli, red pepper, and tomatoes, since I had that on hand)
Optional: meat (I threw in some leftover crumbled bacon, but leftover grilled chicken would be great as well)
*I wouldn't include cheese in this, since I think the cheese texture/flavor would get overpowered by the creamy avocado dressing
Cook the pasta to al dente, immediately drain and rinse with cold water to cool the pasta. Put the pasta in a fridge for 20-30 minutes to cool completely. Meanwhile, chop up your veggies, and the meat if you're including any. Toss the chopped ingredients with the cooled pasta, and top with the dressing. Stir to combine, and top with freshly cracked pepper. Serve, and ideally enjoy outside with some beautiful weather!