Post by: Holly – Hodgson Mill Blogger
Last weekend my mom and her husband came in town for a visit. We’re really lucky to have them live in a town close by so we get to see them every couple of months. Grandparents are the best! I knew we would be busy with fun things to do with them, so I wanted dinner to be easy and delicious. I’d like to be able to have that kind of meal every night, but especially when we have company.
One of my girls requested grilled pineapple and chicken kabobs, so the main dish was taken care of, but I needed something to round out the meal. The winter in St. Louis was so mild this year that most all of my herbs managed to stay alive in the pots on my deck. They’ve been greening up and leafing out all over the place for weeks and I have been itching to have a reason to use them. This sweet bell pepper, lemon, herb, feta and Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta salad was the perfect answer. It’s quick, full of flavor, made good use of my fresh herbs and went perfectly with the grilled chicken we were having. I love it when things work out this way!
First thing you need to do is boil a big pot of water and cook a couple of handfuls of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta. Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta, in general, is one of my favorite pastas and it does particularly well in pasta salads. It holds up well when it’s tossed together with other ingredients (unlike most white flour pastas that practically disintegrate), tastes great, gets some whole grains on our plates and even looks cute – my kids refer to them as butterfly noodles.
You’ll need about three cups of cooked pasta in the end. Pasta salad noodles need to be a little more al dente than called for in regular pasta dishes, so pull them off the heat and strain them about a minute or two sooner than the time on the box suggests you cook them. If you happen to be having pasta earlier in the week or just want to get this step done ahead of time, cook some extra bow tie noodles, strain, cool and store them in a covered container to use in this pasta dish a few days later. So easy!
Next, chop up some sweet bell peppers (I used red and orange) and a red onion.
Zest and squeeze the juice from one lemon and chop up some fresh herbs. I used Italian parsley, lemon thyme and oregano, but this dish would work well with any number of herbs you might have on hand.
Next, sauté the peppers and onion in a large skillet with a little olive oil. Once they are at the crisp-tender stage, add the white wine and allow the mixture to simmer until the wine has almost evaporated.
Add the spinach to the skillet and stir until it has wilted. It will look like way too much spinach at the beginning, but just keep on stirring and it will reduce in volume and be the perfect amount.
Take the skillet off the heat and mix in the lemon juice, lemon zest, herbs, feta cheese and Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta. Gently toss everything together, season with some salt and pepper and serve. I like this pasta salad the best when it’s warm, but room temperature or cold are just as tasty. It also holds up really well, so you could make it in the afternoon and just let it sit at room temperature until you are ready to serve it later on that evening.
I am really happy with how this pasta salad turned out and it received great reviews from everyone at the dinner table. If you need a quick and easy, delicious summery side dish, this garden pasta salad is the one for you. Enjoy!
Holly’s Summertime Garden Pasta Salad
- 3 cups cooked Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Bow Tie Pasta
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups sweet bell peppers cut into large dice
- 1 ½ cup red onion, cut into large dice
- 5 cups or 1 small bag baby spinach leaves
- ¾ cup white wine
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme
- Grated zest from one small lemon
- Juice from one small lemon
- 1 ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté peppers and onion until crisp tender. Add wine and allow the mixture to simmer until almost evaporated. Add spinach to skillet with peppers and onion and stir until spinach is wilted. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in pasta, herbs, lemon juice, lemon zest and feta cheese. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.