If I said "Lately, it has been SUPER hot outside." most of my readers would want to smack me across the face for not adding an exclamation point to the end of that statement. "SUPER hot" isn't even a good enough phrase, "scorching humidity" fits SO much better!
Ottawa, according to most of the people I have met here, has a "normally mild northern climate" but I keep hearing that it has been "unseasonably hot and humid" this year. We heard that last summer as well. Citizens of Ottawa be warned, I officially don't believe people who say such things anymore.
This being the case I didn't feel like subjecting myself to being in the kitchen too often. Who wants to eat hot food when it is this hot outside anyhow? Not I. I picked up a tip from my mom when I was growing up in Minnesota, look at the forecast for the week and pick the coolest day...then cook up a STORM of cold salads. On Thursday I decided it would be a great time to get ready for what the forecast showed was gonna be a killer. I got right to work making one of our family's favorites...Greek Pasta Salad. Mmmmm.....
I will warn you ahead of time, most of these ingredients come out of cans or bottles. I don't prefer to "cook" like this which is why it is reserved for insufferably hot days OR when I just don't have time to spend 4 hours in the kitchen but I need something that will be fabulous anyhow. I put a homemade extra virgin olive oil sun dried tomato recipe at the end if you aren't crazy about bottled dressings, like me.
Greek Pasta Salad
1 lb. box of farfalle, prepared al dente
1 can Libby's sea salted green olives, halved
1 English cucumber, peeled, quartered and diced *
1 8 oz. bag of sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1 jar of Cora's marinated artichoke hearts, lightly chopped
2 bottles of Kraft extra virgin olive oil sun dried tomato dressing
10 oz. crumbled goat cheese feta
Cook pasta as directed on box; normally al dente on farfalle is around 7 minutes. While your noodles are boiling prep your veggies and toss them into a large mixing bowl with 1 bottle of dressing to start them soaking in the flavors.
When the pasta is finished, drain in a large strainer. Rinse repeatedly with cold water to get any extra starch off of the noodles. This will help prevent them from sticking together (If that doesn't work, drizzle a tablespoon of EVOO on the noodles). Wait about 20 minutes before adding them to the mixing bowl with the vegetables. They can still be warm when you add them, but they shouldn't be hot. Warmth will help release the flavor from the tomatoes and artichokes, but "hot" will cook them.
Pour another bottle of dressing over the noodles before attempting to mix them into the veggies. Pour into a large container with a lid and let it sit in the fridge for 1 hour, take it out and stir. Put it back in for another hour before stirring again, then serving.
EVOO Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
16 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced
1 c. red wine vinegar
12 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
8 T. fresh basil, lightly chopped
2 c. extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
Add tomatoes, vinegar, basil and garlic to food processor. Pulse until tomatoes, garlic and basil appear to have a nice pasty consistency. Open the lid of the processor and s-l-o-w-l-y add in the oil while the processor is running at medium speed so the oil has a chance to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. You will have to double this to use it for the pasta salad.
*You can switch out the English cucumber's crunchiness for something else if you prefer, celery or shredded carrots work well.