Pasta Salad with Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Sweet Corn
At this point in your weird blog lady’s life, there are very few recipe “concepts” that I haven’t tackled on this site. Over the past 7+ years, I’ve dipped into myriad cuisines, flavor combinations, and meal types—from vegan bowls to ridiculously indulgent food porn fantasies (see here and here) and many thangs in between.
However, there are a handful of recipe requests that I’ve been putting off for a very, very long time. I’ll occasionally get DMs or emails asking if I have a recipe for these things, and thanks to my best friend Google Analytics, I know people are searching for them on the blog as well. A few examples: deviled eggs, pimento cheese, classic coleslaw, spinach-artichoke dip, and the oft demanded “pasta salad.”
At first glance, these recipes might seem unrelated, but upon closer inspection, you may notice that in their traditional forms, they all rely heavily on a certain ingredient…
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, mayo is a personal dealbreaker. If you love the devil’s condiment mayo, get down with yo’ bad self—I shall never yuck another’s yum—I just can’t do it. (Although I have been forced to eat it many times over the years so as not to offend a host. I try not to think about those experiences.)
Obviously, many mayo-heavy recipes can be revamped using similarly textured subs like yogurt or avocado, and that’s something I do on the reg (heyo, chicken salad). I’ve just never been inspired to make a creamy pasta salad of any kind. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I associate pasta salad with summer barbecues and picnics, and I’m not big on creamy things of any kind sitting out in the sun. Sue me.
So, when a friend recently begged for a pasta salad recipe for an upcoming barbecue and reminded me that there were zero pasta salad options on the blog, I thought I’d oblige with an option that KO’d creaminess in favor of a simple oil and vinegar dressing. Enter: Pasta Salad with Arugula, Roasted Red Peppers, and Sweet Corn.
I think this terrifically tangy, textured pasta salad has serious potential as a summer side staple, friends. Roasted red peppers and summer sweet corn is a killer smoky-sweet combo, baby arugula provides necessary, good-for-you greenery with a peppery kick, and fresh basil and goat cheese brighten things up. A generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar pack a serious flavor punch while also keeping things light, bright, and (perhaps most importantly) sun exposure-friendly.
In other exciting news, this pasta salad comes together with minimal fuss in roughly 45 minutes, only about 10 of which are hands-on. Plus, it’s easily packable/portable, and can be made your own in infinite exciting ways. I love this as a vegetarian side, but should you want to work in some meat, crispy bacon or prosciutto or a little bit of sliced salami would be killer. If you’re not into roasted red peppers, replace them with fresh or roasted cherry tomatoes, and don’t hesitate to play with cheese (I love feta and Pecorino Romano in this) or ditch it altogether to keep things plant-based.
While I envisioned this pasta salad as a party-ready side dish, it’s equally fabulous as an entrée, so keep it in mind for summer lunches and dinners. (If you go the entrée route, try it warm—it’s surprisingly satisfying.) One quick serving note—if you do travel with this salad or prep it ahead, wait to add the arugula and goat cheese until just before serving for the best texture. I also like to freshen leftovers with a little extra oil and vinegar.
I highly recommend following my lead and getting all of the ingredients for this delightful pasta salad (and any other summer recipes you have in mind!) delivered by my longtime friends at Peapod Delivers. Peapod is offering you $20 off of your first order plus 60 days of free delivery with code: SERENA20. They also stock everything you could possibly need for parties and picnics—from travel containers to plates and cutlery. HALLELUJAH.
8 ounces fusilli or rotini (I like to use whole wheat, but you do you.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 ears sweet corn, shucked and kernels removed (roughly 1½ cups sweet corn kernels)
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces roasted red peppers packed in water, roughly chopped (About 1 cup chopped peppers)
3 packed cups baby arugula
1/3 packed cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking and let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the corn to the pan and season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the corn is bright yellow and lightly browned in spots. Transfer the corn to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Add the cooled corn, roasted red peppers, arugula, basil, and crushed red pepper (if using) to the bowl with the pasta. Drizzle with the remaining 1½ tablespoons of olive oil and the vinegar and toss to combine. Add half of the goat cheese and gently toss again. Taste and season with a little extra salt and pepper if needed. (You can also add a little bit more oil and balsamic if you like.)
Serve immediately topped with the remaining goat cheese.
This post is sponsored by my longtime friends at Peapod Delivers. All opinions are very obviously my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Domesticate Me alive and kicking.
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