Monday, May 24, 2010

Pasta Salad with Balsamic and Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette

You would think it was already July here in East-Central Illinois. The temperatures are reaching into the 90s and the humidity doesn't seem to be far behind.

I knew I wanted to do a pasta salad with lots of fresh veggies for our Meatless Monday dish. The question was what kind of dressing. Every once in awhile, flavor combinations just kind of leap to mind and this was one of those occasions. All of a sudden, the idea of combining caramelized sweet onions (Vandalias are on sale locally) and Balsamic vinegar seemed to just crystallize in my brain.

It came out great! I caramelized the onions in a little olive oil, and then pureed them with Balsamic, Dijon mustard, light mayonnaise and salt and pepper. It was sweet, tart, and savory all at the same time. It really pulled together the pasta, lightly steamed veggies and cheese that made up the rest of the salad. A big serving of nearly 2 cups  is only 375 calories with 8 grams of fat and a whopping 12 grams of fiber.

Let's eat!

Pasta Salad with Balsamic and Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette
Makes 8 servings
Pasta salad:
16 ounces whole wheat Rotini
2 medium bunches fresh broccoli, stems and florets, chopped
1 bunch fresh asparagus, woody ends removed, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
6 ounces swiss cheese, cubed
1 bunch green onions (about 8 stalks), chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Balsamic and Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
salt and pepper

For the pasta salad:
Prepare pasta according to package directions until al dante. You want it firm, not mushy.

Meanwhile, steam broccoli, asparagus and carrots until just tender. Keep them from over cooking by placing them in ice water and then draining.

When the pasta is done, rinse under cold water and drain well.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, veggies, vinaigrette, oregano, basil, parsley, and Swiss cheese. Stir until well combined. Serve individual plates topped with green onion and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

For the vinaigrette:
Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, add onions and saute until browned.

In a food processor, combine onions, Balsamic, remaining oil, mustard, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste and puree.

Deal of the Day: The difference in flavor between a good Balsamic and a not so good Balsamic is incredible. It's worth paying a little extra.

Balsamic Vinegar on FoodistaBalsamic Vinegar


Cocina Savant said...

this sounds fantastic and refreshing. i love the combination of caramelized onions and balsamic on the pizzas that we make, so i can imagine just how tasty the dressing is. great post!

Noelle said...

SOunds delicious Scott!

Biren said...

This sounds like a great idea. Simple meals are the way to go. It is also so hot and humid here in MN.

Pacheco Patty said...

This looks good, it's still cool here in Nor Cal, we're waiting for the warm days but I would make this delicious looking pasta in any weather, thanks for sharing your recipe.

Magic of Spice said...

What great ingredients! Love it all, and looks great:)

Ms Bibi said...

Looks fantastic. I love making pasta salads all summer long.I will be trying this recipe soon.

DailyChef said...

I love the dressing - going to try that on my next salad!

Dawn said...

What a great vinaigrette!

Scott K said...

thanks everyone for your comments!

Mother Rimmy said...

What a great idea for a vinaigrette!

mywanderingspoon said...

Yesterday I was thinking how many people in this moment eat chips and dip all kinds of sauces....
This salad looks great:)

Joy said...

Great idea to puree the caramelized onions, particularly with the balsamic vinegar. I've been on a bit of a salad kick lately, the fresh greens are popping up in our CSA just as we're tiring of all the heavy root vegetables.

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