Pasta Salad in Shades of the PEI Tartan

National Tartan Day is celebrated each year on April 6th which coincides with the signing of the Scottish Declaration of Independence — the Declaration of Arbroath — in 1320. It is a day of observance to recognize and celebrate the Scottish heritage and the contributions of the Scots and their descendents to Canada’s history, development, and culture.  Last year, I published a posting about Tartan Day and you can read about its origins here.

I wondered what the focus of my posting would be for this year’s Tartan Day.  Lo and behold, didn’t I find bow tie pasta in shades of the Prince Edward Island tartan – red, green, and ivory!  Mind you, the colors are not an exact or perfect match but I think they are close enough to work in a colorful pasta salad with herb dressing.

The tartan on the far left in the above photograph is the PEI dress tartan and the one on the right is the traditional Island tartan.  The colors each signify a feature of PEI and you can learn about this by clicking here.

Any kind of bow tie pasta can be used for this recipe.  I’ve chosen to use colored Durum wheat semolina from Italy because I love the tri-colored pasta which makes a colorful salad!

Use the freshest ingredients you can find for pasta salad – I’m using fresh greenhouse-grown tomatoes and cucumbers from the Schurman Family Farm in Spring Valley, PEI.  Also, for any salad, use quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I have used products from the Liquid Gold and All Things Olive store here in Charlottetown, PEI.

You can use any olive oil and balsamic vinegar – either flavored or plain – that you wish; however, it will obviously change the flavour of the dressing.  Using different olive oils and balsamic vinegars is an easy way to use the same basic ingredients but change the flavour of the salad.  For this recipe, I chose to use the Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil which I paired with a Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar.

Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

8.8 oz (250g) bow tie pasta
salt
1½ tsp cooking oil
2 tbsp onion soup mix
boiling water

2 cups coarsely chopped English cucumber
1 cup diced tomatoes or halved cherry/grape tomatoes
½ cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp sliced black olives (optional)
3½ oz cubed feta cheese
1½ – 2 tbsp shredded Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese mix
Fresh parsley (optional)

Method:

Cook pasta, for length of time and in amount of boiling water and salt indicated on package, adding the oil and onion soup mix to the cooking process. Drain pasta, rinse in cold water, and allow to cool completely.

Cut ends off small cucumber and slice in half, horizontally. Cut cucumber into ¼ inch pieces.

Coarsely chop the tomatoes and red onion.

Place pasta into large bowl and add the cucumber, tomatoes, and onion. Toss to mix, being careful not to tear pasta. Drizzle with just enough dressing to coat all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to allow flavours to mix.

At time of serving, mix in olives and add more dressing if needed/desired. Transfer to serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheeses and fresh parsley.

Herb Dressing

Ingredients:

6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
1½ tbsp sugar
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp celery seed
Pinch dried dillweed
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

Mix all ingredients in glass jar. Cover jar tightly with lid and shake jar vigorously to fully mix and incorporate all ingredients. Refrigerate until use. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 5-7 minutes.  Shake jar to mix ingredients, then drizzle over salad.

A colorful and tasty pasta salad sure to complement any meal.

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