I am always hunting for new warm weather recipes, whether I am hosting a barbecue, attending a potluck, or just filling my fridge with a simple salad for the week. Pasta salad is a particular favorite of mine (you can never have too many in your arsenal), so when a reader requested "copycat" recipes from the Whole Food's salad bar, I jumped at the chance. This version — with smoked gouda, roasted red peppers, and artichoke hearts — is rich, creamy, and one of the best I've made yet.
Truth is, I am obsessed with the prepared foods section of gourmet markets and grocery stores. Not because I purchase anything from behind the fingerprint-smudged glass, but because I use the never-ending ingredient combinations as a source of culinary inspiration. There are always dozens of chicken salads, tuna salads, pastas and grains to choose from, each culling different tastes from around the world. And while the store-bought versions usually fall flat, it doesn't mean those same flavors won't translate into a delicious dish made at home.
After cruising the Whole Foods website for inspiration, I settled on "Sinful Smoked Gouda Pasta." (Yes, I am the stereotypical Southerner that goes straight for the recipe that uses mayonnaise. I do not apologize.) The flavors seemed classic, but what really sold me was the smoky spin; it sounded like the perfect recipe to roll out before Memorial Day. The choice was a home run!
Not only is this pasta salad easy, easy, easy, but it is jam-packed with flavor. Fire-roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, smoked gouda, and fresh herbs amp up the ingredient list, but it's the creamy dressing that knocks it out of the park: the smoky heat from adobo sauce infuses it with loads of char-grilled flavor. The flavors are more complex than any pasta salad I've tasted!
Is this recipe a little decadent? Perhaps. I've seen (and made) worse. But it sure is delicious. It definitely has a wow factor that will impress any discriminating party guests, and that is the result I am always after.
Pasta Salad with Gouda, Red Peppers & Artichoke Hearts
- Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, shaking to remove excess water. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat. Spread noodles on a sheet pan and transfer to refrigerator to cool.
- Smoked gouda can be purchased from the deli/meat department of a well-stocked grocery store.
This post was requested by illuminatedpst for Reader Request Week 2013.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)