Balsamic Vegetable Pasta Salad

There’s something about a cold pasta salad that brings me back to the hot summers of my childhood.  Maybe it’s because that was my grandparents’ go-to side dish whenever the family got together.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in Nebraska, where we aren’t exactly known for our fancy foods, but rather steak, corn, and potato salad.  Meat and carbs, people.

Either way, this nostalgic dish is always delicious, and this recipe is actually healthy, too!  No mayo, no added sugar, and all the veggies of the rainbow.  Plus it’s pleasing to the eye.  I actually made this in an attempt to use up some of my balsamic vinegar that was in the cupboard.  Somehow I ended up with two large bottles.  Oh well, guess I gotta make balsamic reduction and put it on EVERYTHING.

Now, I know that 99% of the population is OBSESSED with feta cheese.  While I do like feta, I’m not head over heels about it, and I’m a picky b*tch.  I cannot stand the pre-crumbled crap.  I gotta go with the fresh, goat/sheep’s milk, expensive kind.  If you’ve never splurged on the expensive feta, do it.  Seriously.  This isn’t like store brand vs. name brand difference here, this is delicious and mouthwatering vs. eh it’s okay.  It will change your life.

This recipe is simple and can easily be made vegan by omitting the feta cheese, or using a tasty vegan replacement.  Boil, chop, stir, done!  You can serve this dish right away, or make ahead and allow the delicious balsamic dressing to marinade the veggies.  Personally, I think it tastes 100x better the next day.  But I understand if you can’t wait that long.

Ingredients
2 C dry pasta
1 small to medium cucumber
2 roma tomatoes
1/2 head of radicchio
1 yellow bell pepper
4-5 green onions
4 oz feta cheese
For the Dressing
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/4 C olive oil
1 T dijon mustard
juice from two lemons
salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions
Prepare medium sized sauce pan of boiling water, add pasta and cook according to box instructions.  (I used farfalle, but feel free to switch it up.)  When the pasta is done, immediately strain and run under cool water to stop the cooking process and prevent it from becoming starchy.

While the pasta is boiling, begin chopping vegetables.  Combine all in large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing.  Using a whisk, stir until completely combined.  Pour over top of veggies and stir.  Add the pasta to the bowl and stir again to combine.

Top with crumbled feta cheese, and serve or allow to marinade in the refrigerator.

 

 

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