When summer arrives I like to spend as little time as possible preparing meals. Quick/simple salads and pasta become the staple when the temperatures rise. Pasta salad was one of the things on the menu for the lunch I hosted yesterday. About a week ago I stumbled upon a gorgeous pasta salad over on Skinny Taste that incorporated baby greens within the pasta salad instead of just using it as a bed. I thought, what a novel idea and filed the idea in my mental roladex. For yesterday’s lunch, I created my own version of this pasta salad. This Parmesan Spinach Pasta Salad was such a huge hit at the lunch that I barely had a full serving left to bring home. Since it is so yummy I’m putting the recipe on the blog for myself and all of you to add to your summer salad repertoire. It can be a side or with the addition of shrimp or chicken can easily become a main course. This salad is not dairy free but the cheese can be omitted even though the Parmesan gives it a robust and bold flavor. I eat cheese sparingly since too much dairy upsets my stomach.
I made this up on the fly so you may need to adjust/tweak the salt, pepper, oil, sugar, and vinegar amounts to suite your individual taste. Play with it a bit. The great thing about salad is that you can add as much or as little as you want. I hope you love this salad as much as I do since I will be making it again very soon.
Parmesan Spinach Pasta Salad
1 bag gluten free brown rice pasta ( I used Tinkyada brown rice shells)
3 cups washed raw spinach
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 peeled and chopped english cucumber
1 head fresh broccoli rinses and chopped
1/2 cup mild banana peppers, diced (use jar peppers)
1/2 cup shredded fresh romano cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons organic sugar
To taste: salt, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dried onion flakes
1. Fill 2 medium stock pots about halfway with water and set to boil. In one pot add pasta and boil according to package directions. In second pot, add broccoli and allow to boil for 3 min. Using a slotted spoon, immediate transfer broccoli to a bowl filled with ice water.
2. When pasta is ready, drain, rinse under cold water and add to a large bowl. Add broccoli, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and diced banana peppers. Mix until well combined.
3. Add apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, cracked black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, onion powder, dried onion flakes, and sugar. You may add more oil and/or cider vinegar and sugar according to your taste.
4. Liberally, add shredded Romano cheese and Parmesan cheese adding more or less according to your preference. Toss salad.
5. Salad is best prepared and refrigerated 2-3 hours prior to serving or the day before.
Notes: In place of vinegar and olive oil you may prefer to use your favorite brand of Italian salad dressing.