Warm Pasta Salad

The weather is still liminal here in San Diego. Not quite spring. Not quite summer. Still colder than it normally is but not so cold it feels like winter. Just on the side of chilly with lots of clouds and rain. Well, less so rain the past few days (knock on wood). I know, I know; May gray and June gloom is what they say. But usually it’s at least warm by now. Wasn’t the point of moving to San Diego to always be in sunny, 75 degree weather?

When the weather makes it hard for you to get fully into the summer spirit (and yes, I’m aware it isn’t actually summer yet), there’s only one thing to do: make a warm pasta salad. It’s the perfect mix of wanting warm weather and accepting it’s still cold. You get the joy of a summer picnic side dish, while still keeping it warm for the cooler weather.

Super easy, super tasty, and pretty inexpensive at under $10 for the whole recipe.

What other summer flavors would you add to this pasta salad? And what other summer dishes are you craving but need to be made for some still-on-the-cool-side weather? I’m thinking a warm potato salad might be next…

Ingredients
1 head garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
16 ounces small shell pasta, uncooked
15 ounces ricotta
salt and pepper, to taste
18 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
5 ounces baby spinach
⅔ cup parmesan, grated

Aroma Pasta Cooker
8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Directions
1. Cut approximately ½ inch off the top of the head of garlic.
2. Place the bulb in a small bowl and drizzle the olive oil over the exposed cloves.
3. Cover the bowl with an upside down plate. Microwave on high in 1 minute increments until the garlic is soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
4. Carefully remove the plate and remove from the microwave using oven mitts. Set aside and let cool.
5. While the garlic is cooling, fill the pasta cooker to the MAX line with water. Set for the Medium Pasta setting and allow to reach a boil.
6. Add the noodles and let cook for 7-10 minutes until al dente.
7. While the pasta is cooking, squeeze the garlic cloves from the head and mince well.
8. Add the minced garlic to a medium bowl along with the ricotta cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
9. When the pasta is done, turn the cooker off. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, then use the lid to drain the pasta while keeping it in the pot. Return the pot to the cooker.
10. Add the reserved pasta water to the ricotta cheese mixture. Stir until it forms a smooth sauce.
11. Pour the sauce over the pasta in the pot. Stir until well combined.
12. Add in the sliced cherry tomatoes and the spinach, then the parmesan cheese.
13. Stir everything until the ingredients are well combined and the spinach is slightly wilted. Serve hot.

Recipe inspiration from Budget Bytes.

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