Summer snuck up on me yesterday. Kind of like my vacation which is only like, four days away! And thanks to the glory of a long weekend only ONE work day away!!! Last night I made a delicious summer meal just for me. Cooking for yourself is totally underrated. Stay away from the frozen entrees and take the time to prepare a whole meal of food just for you. It feels fancy and nice, and then you have leftovers for lunch. So in honor of the first real frost free night of the year here, I made a chilled pasta salad with pesto. It was one part what I had in the fridge and pantry, one part a quick, cheap stop at the grocery store (I'm on a serious budget so I can enjoy my vacay to the max) and it was 100% satifying, delicious dinner.
My photos kind of stink because (a) it was getting a wee bit too dark in my kitchen for nice looking pictures and (b) I was awkwardly holding my camera with messy cooking hands in an attempt not to get balsalmic and oil on it (judging by the crusted smear of something I just now wiped off the screen, I obviously did not do the hottest job of this). Hence the pics are wicked blurry. Let's just pretend that it's an artistic choice, shall we?
You could do a million variations on this pasta salad. I sort of hate the words "pasta salad", 'cause I always picture something assaulted with way too mas mayo that has been sadly sitting in the deli case for a few too many days. But I mean, it is what it is. I used brown rice rotini, which can get a little gluey, so next time I might just go for wheat rotini. First, I put on my pasta water to boil and while that got cooking I tossed a bunch of cherry tomatoes in a baking dish with a splash of balsalmic and olive oil. I baked those on 350 for about 35 minutes, until they had all burst. This is hands down my absolute fave way to use up the remainder of a container of cherry tomatoes. They get so, so sweet and taste terrific. I like to keep 'em on hand in the fridge to add to salads, or eat with some crusty bread and hummus/pesto/goat cheese, whatevs. Once the pasta and tomatoes were done, I tossed the still warm pasta with some store bought pesto (not as good as the real deal, but I'm budgeting and 5.99 pine nuts were not in the cards for me) so yeah, store bought pesto, the tomatoes and some of their cooking juices, one half of a yellow pepper (in a small dice) a handfull of feta, a handfull of baby arugula. I drizzled the whole shebang with another glug of olive oil, salted, peppered and then let it chill out while I grilled some chicken breasts. Then, I ate it lying down on the couch, I felt like King Tut or something. Don't ask why I laid down, blame it on the heat, blame it on the beer I had while cooking or blame it on the fact that lying on your side while daintily eating a nice summer dinner, ceiling fan spinning over head, watching True Life on MTV feels damn good. Try it.
About an hour later I ate a small bowl of whipped cream and Hershey's syrup. I'm sharing this because I'm not afraid of who I am and I invite you to save your judgments until you have tried the same.