ASPARAGUS AND BEET PASTA SALAD
A delightfully flavored and textured pasta salad. The color alone will make sure nobody forgets it!
Makes 7 cups
8 oz. dried pasta – shells or other small pasta – boiled in sufficiently salted water till tender, drained and rinsed till cold and set aside
1-1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus spears – wash, break off bottom 3rd of stalks and discard or save for broth; steam till tender, cut into 1 inch lengths and set aside
14 oz. can whole beets, drained, reserving 1/4 c. liquid for dressing, then cut beets into bite size pieces
1 lg. carrot – cut off ends, peel, then continue peeling in 1-1/2 inch length carrot ribbons about 1/4 inch wide and set aside
7-10 sm. pitted Kalamata olives, chopped – reserve 1/4 c. of brine for dressing
1 loose handful of sliced mild pickled banana peppers, cut into smaller pieces
1 sm. green pepper, cored and diced into 1/4 inch squares
1/2 c. 1/4 inch dice sweet onion
1/2 c. coarsely cut fresh cilantro
1/2 c. veg mayonnaise
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. brine from Kalamata olives
1/4 c. beet liquid from can
1/4 c. Italian red wine vinegar (not Balsamic)
1 t. garlic powder
1 T. ground coriander
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. celery seed
1/4 t. ground allspice
1 t. sea salt plus to taste
lots of freshly ground black pepper
Combine all dressing ingredients in bowl and whisk till smooth.
In large bowl combine all prep ingredients. Toss to distribute.
Pour dressing over all. Toss to coat. Salt to taste.
Either serve immediately or soon, or refrigerate for service later.
Notes: I like to drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over each serving followed by a little freshly ground black pepper. If desired garnish with a little more cilantro.