Did you know that vinegar helps prevent pasta from sticking together? Just a splash — 1/2 tsp or so — in your cooking water will do the trick. This is such a great concept that we tried it with our shrubs and it worked great…especially with pasta salad.
Don’t worry about the pasta taking on an acidic taste. Once you toss it with your favorite sauce or salad dressing, you won’t notice a thing other than a great tart and fruity note.
Give it a try with this recipe for pasta salad with greens, grapes, pears, almonds, and blue cheese. It’s a great late-winter side or lunch entree.
Pasta Salad with Blue Cheese, Fruit, Nuts, and Shrub Vinaigrette
- 8 cups water e.g., 2 quarts
- 4 oz small dried pasta such as penne, orecchiette, farfalle,or other small shapes
- 1 tbsp sea salt for cooking pasta
- 1/2 cup mixed fresh greens lettuce, micro-greens, arugula, etc
- 1/4 cup red grapes halved
- 1/4 cup black and/or green olives sliced
- 1 ripe pear sliced or diced
- 1/2 cup green beans cuts into 1-inch pieces or asparagus tips
- 1/8 cup blue cheese crumbled
- 2 tbsp unsalted almonds pecans or walnuts may be substituted
- 2 tbsp premium olive oil
- 1 clove garlic smashed and minced
- 2 tbsp Spiker's Shrub Roasted Cinnamon Apple, Sour Cherry Plum, or Raspberry Bergamot
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
- 1-2 grinds freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, Spiker's Shrub, minced basil, black pepper and sea salt. Set aside and allow the flavors to mellow at room temperature while preparing the rest of the dish.
- In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to boil with 1 Tbsp salt. Add the pasta and 1/2 tsp of your choice of Spiker's Shrubs. Cook for 8-9 minutes. Do not undercook or the finished product will be rubbery. Drain and allow to cool. Do not add olive oil.
- In a small saucepan, add 4 cups water. Bring to boil. Add the asparagus tips or fresh green beans. Cook for 2 minutes and then drain under cold running water. Set aside.
- Slice the pear and the black or green olives. Set aside. Wash and dry the greens and tear into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the blanched green vegetables, pear, olives, grapes, and greens to the cooked pasta. Toss gently. Then add the dressing and toss again. Crumble the blue cheese over all and serve.