Memorial Day Weekend is upon us. The unofficial start of summer is here. And while most of you will be frolicking about in bathing suits on boats or beaches or hanging with your besties at barbecues or boils, I’ll be hold up inside with two very unhappy children who need to study for final exams. I think this is the first year since my kids have been in school that they have to return after Memorial Day. It has certainly put a damper on our holiday plans. Maybe we’ll be able to squeeze in a little pool time. Maybe not. Time will tell. One thing’s for sure. I’ll be doing plenty of cooking. That’s how I’ll keep my stress levels under control. And I’ll be making several of Chandler’s and Brennan’s favorites foods to help keep their stress and pouting sessions to a minimum.
One item that will certainly make it into the rotation is this pasta salad. My entire gang loves this version with its zesty dressing and interesting ingredients. Well, interesting insofar as it includes hearts of palm–my kids get a kick out of telling people they’re eating part of a palm tree. It’s also perfect for warm weather gatherings since it contains only one slightly temperature-sensitive ingredient (the feta). I think I’ll serve it out on the deck alongside some Grilled Ranch Chicken and we’ll pretend, if just for an hour, that our summer has officially begun too. Hope you all have a happy and safe weekend!
Zesty Penne Pasta Salad Recipe
1 16-ounce box penne pasta
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup frozen peas
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, rinsed, drained and sliced
1 6-ounce can large, pitted black olives, drained and sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 4-ounce package crumbled feta cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse under cold water and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil; set aside. In a microwave-safe dish, combine the peas and bell pepper. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes; drain and add to pasta. Stir in hearts of palm, olives and tomatoes. In a small bowl, make the dressing by combining the vinegar and next 8 ingredients (through onion powder). Whisk in reserved 1/2 cup olive oil. Add dressing and feta cheese to pasta; toss to mix well. Makes 12 servings.