Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Potluck Salad: Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Red Peppers Recipe — Cook's Illustrated 7/1998

This American invention can be delicious--as long as you stick with lemon juice in the vinaigrette and let the vegetables cool before dressing them.
Chives work particularly well with the asparagus and peppers, but you can substitute fresh mint, parsley, or basil.

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds asparagus , tough ends trimmed
3 large red bell peppers , cored, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil , plus more to toss with vegetables
Table salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 medium clove garlic , minced or put through garlic press
1 pound short, bite-size pasta such as fusilli, farfalle, or orecchiette
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (see note above)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot over high heat. Meanwhile, toss asparagus and peppers with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Either grill asparagus until tender, and streaked with light grill marks, 5 to 7 minutes, or roast in a 425-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, shaking pan once halfway through the cooking time. Either grill peppers, using grill basket if you have one, until tender and lightly charred, about 8 minutes, or roast in 425-degree oven until tender and lightly browned, 15 to 17 minutes; cool to room temperature.

2. Whisk lemon juice and zest, 3/4 teaspoon salt, garlic, and ground black pepper to taste in large bowl; whisk in 3/4 cup oil in slow, steady stream until smooth.

3. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water. Cook until pasta is al dente and drain. Whisk dressing again to blend; add hot pasta, cooled asparagus, peppers, chives, and grated Parmesan cheese; toss to mix thoroughly. Cool to room temperature, adjust seasonings, and serve. (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 day; return to room temperature before serving.)

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