You know in life, when things happen, they all happen at the same time. And though it's really exciting and wonderful, a little part of you wishes they were spaced out a teeny bit better. It has been over two weeks since my last post, and I promise I didn't just abandon this space right after my exciting announcement. As some of you know, the exact same day the Saveur finalists were announced, I started school. A full time 9-am-to-6-pm-plus-homework kind of school with the hopes of having a better, brighter, and more fulfilling career at the end of it. Thankfully it only lasts 12 weeks, but never have I had to actively use my brain for such an extended period of time each and every day—not in my previous jobs, not in college, not in high school. There is no such thing as "zoning out", or "free time" here (besides the hour we get for lunch), it's exhilarating, my classmates are amazing, I'm never bored, but goddamn, I am tired. I come home exhausted, and can barely muster up the strength to make dinner each day, so for the first two weekends after school started, I didn't blog. I felt awful because I had been given such a great honor of being a Saveur finalist, and I wanted so badly to give back and make more recipes, take more photos, and reach out to all of you, but I needed that time to decompress (and catch up on homework!). Now that we're starting our fourth week of school, there is finally a rhythm to the madness, and yesterday I managed to pull together a recipe I have been making and packing for lunch quite frequently as of late.
But before we move on to the recipe, if you haven't voted in the Saveur awards yet, I would really appreciate your vote in the Best New Voice category <3. Click the link here or in the sidebar, and make sure to cast a vote in the other categories as well so we can recognize all the wonderfully talented finalists.
Moving on from self pity and self promotion, because what you're really here for is a recipe (this is a food blog after all, though I highly appreciate if you actually read through my ramblings), I present to you my favorite pasta salad.
My usual take on pasta salad is: leftover vegetables in a bowl with whatever pasta is in the pantry plus whatever condiments are in the fridge, toss, and wish for the best. Usually, they are pretty bad, but sometimes I have rare strokes of genius. This particular incarnation first happened last summer when Phillip and I went grilling with friends at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. He had volunteered me to make a pasta salad, failing to inform me until a few hours before it was to be consumed. I had a minor freak out then employed the method stated above, thankfully luck was on my side that day, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This particular pasta salad is as much vegetable as pasta and only uses a light squeeze of mayonnaise, which is why I often make it an entire meal instead of just a side. And as the weather is getting nicer with more outdoor soirées to be had, I hope it finds a way into your summer repertoire this year.
Serves 4 to 6.
8 oz small shaped pasta such as macaroni or ditalini
1/2 lb asparagus, tough stems removed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (1 & 1/2 cups after prep)
6 oz freshly shucked english peas (1 heaping cup)
2 tsp olive oil
6 oz grape tomatoes, halved or quartered (1 cup)
1/4 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt plus more to taste
lots of freshly ground black pepper
pecorino romano for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to instructions. Right before the pasta is done, add peas and cook for 30 more seconds. Turn the heat off, add asparagus to the pot and give it a good stir, drain immediately. The asparagus and peas will finish cooking from the residual heat of the pasta. Transfer to a large bowl and add olive oil, toss to coat. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Add tomatoes and red onion to the same bowl. Prep your dressing by whisking the mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper together. Pour over the pasta mixture and toss to combine. Taste and add more salt as desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Top with shaved or grated pecorino (or mix it in!) and enjoy.