These started off as peanut butter and jelly, I'm not even kidding. Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I had been having a bit of a rough week and hadn't planned anything for our weekly get together. So that morning we just wanted to keep things simple and focus on getting our cats to be friends (long story). We were thinking - let's just make PB&J or store-bought ravioli.
But then - she said she was craving salmon, and I said smoked salmon and goat cheese with crackers was easy and good, she said what about nice bread and an egg. Then there were herbs and kale and shallot and good lord we can't keep it simple! And I wouldn't have it any other way. Fresh, gorgeous ingredients (including some from Mel's garden) turned into a lovely lunch for us, even while wrangling a baby, a toddler, and 2 kitties in an un-childproofed house (mine).
Last month, I signed up to bring pasta salad to a potluck. In typical me fashion, I decided that I had to make it myself. After cruising the internet for a bit, I came across a recipe with smoked gouda, which was all I needed to be sold. Roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts? Total bonus.
I choose to use gemelli for my pasta because it is my favorite and it is really structurally sound - it holds up to anything. While that was boiling, I diced up my roasted peppers and artichoke hearts (I was lucky to find grilled ones at the store). I had a couple of tomatoes hanging around, so I chopped those up and threw them in too. After I rinsed the pasta in cold water (normally a big no-no, but good for pasta salads), I tossed it with the veggies and the cubed gouda.
Then came the dressing, where I inexplicably decided to take the opposite route and go quick and easy. I used mayonnaise and bottled Italian dressing and it came out just right - light and flavorful. You are of course welcome to make your own dressing from scratch. Top with fresh herbs and go! This is hearty and fresh and super yummy - it was very popular at the potluck, thank goodness!