Monday, March 12, 2012

Italian Pasta Salad

I'm really relieved to finally getting back into the swing of cooking the Italian cuisine I grew up eating but with GF ingredients.  I've never been one to adjust too smoothly to change due to lack of patience and skepticism, and sometimes this new gluten free diet of mine has been quite challenging.  But it's been a great learning experience and I'm starting to feel better.. seems to have been worth all the effort in the end.  I guess when I introduced this blog as being "a new twist to family old recipes", I didn't expect for the twist to be this extreme.  But this new discovery has helped me notice that GF is not as accessible and convenient as it should be.  Do I feel a new project coming on?  Perhaps this is a sign to start my own GF business!  Or maybe just a hobby for now, but you never know what the future holds.  Until I find it, I'll keep treading on, exploring and learning.  

This pasta salad is such a great reminder of my youth.  Being a picky child, this side dish saved my mother from a lot of headaches.  It's simple but filled with lots of goodies and flavor (spices, fresh veggies, peppery and lemony herbs).  It's such an easy side you can throw quickly together for Easter or a summer picnic, and you can't even tell it's made with GF pasta!

What you'll need:  serves about 6

1 full pkg gluten free pasta (small shells)
1 cup Girard's Italian Dressing
1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
1/2 cucumber chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 big sprigs of lemon thyme (removed from stems and coarsely chopped)
a few fresh basil leaves (coarsely chopped)
a few sprinkles of 21 Salute Seasoning (found at Trader Joe's, see ingredients here)
to taste salt and ground black pepper

As directed on the pasta package, cook the pasta on the stove.  I like mine al dente (with a bite), so I cooked it a couple minutes less.  Strain the pasta, but don't rinse.. you want the pasta to stay hot!  While still hot, put the pasta in a glass bowl and pour in the Italian dressing.  Mix.  The heat from the pasta brings out more of the flavor from the dressing.  Let cool.  Then add the feta cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, carrots, thyme, basil and seasonings.  Stir and cover.  Let chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or until cold. 

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