Remember last post we talked about potato salad? Today, let’s talk about another summer staple: pasta salad! Now, I typically love pasta salad. Even bad ones. You know the kind: overdressed, with sad scraps of vegetables (hi, canned black olives and reconstituted bell pepper!), from the box. Pasta salad has infinite renditions, which just means infinite opportunities for it to go awry. Not today! I was flipping through my newest issue of Real Simple, and found this pasta salad loaded with crisp, bright cucumber, a lemony mustard vinaigrette, and topped with fresh herbs. If ever a pasta salad was calling my name, this was it!
I made this for a garden party I went to, and it was so delicious! I normally don’t care for feta (or cheese at all, really) in salads, but the feta really works here (I tried both with and without). The salty quality and soft oh so slightly creamy texture really coats the pasta in the perfect way. If you do not like cilantro as so many do not, I would swap for parsley — the grassy notes would really work here! For a vegan/dairy free option, use cashew cheese or simply omit! It is still really yummy sans cheese. Promise!
The cucumber is super refreshing, especially on a hot summer day – perfect for summer parties! Enjoy this twist on a classic!
lemon + herb cucumber pasta salad.
adapted from Real Simple.
1 pound dried, short cut pasta, cooked to package directions
2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons reserved
1 pound English cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thick, cut into half moons
1 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea or pink himalayan salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 lemon half
Heat a pot of water to boiling and add a teaspoon of sea salt. Add pasta to the pot and cook to package directions to al dente. Remove, drain and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; toss to coat. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk mustard, lemon juice, zest, garlic, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Whisk in remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and emulsify to combine. Add cucumbers and feta to the bowl and toss gently to coat.
Once cooled, add pasta to cucumber mixture and toss to combine. This mixture can be made up to this point up to 2 days in advance. Just before serving, add cilantro and mint, drizzle with oil, add last bit of sea salt, pepper and juice of lemon half, toss and serve immediately.
Serves 12 as a side/appetizer; 4 as a main dish.
*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible*