Do you usually associate pasta salads with summer? Well here’s a pasta salad that has all the flavors of winter, and the comfort, too!
This winter pasta salad is fantastic. Kale, spinach & chard are wilted with some shallots, garlic and dried cranberries. Toss these hearty greens with some chewy penne pasta. Add some salty feta cheese and toasted buttery pine nuts. And the best part? Drizzle it all with a sweet and tangy orange balsamic vinaigrette.
Take your time spring! This particular winter salad is just too good to rush!
Use some hearty greens for this salad. Use just one type or a combination. And this orange balsamic vinaigrette, though not the prettiest color, is amazing in flavor. Tangy and sweet, it coats the pasta perfectly. And I love those bits of orange zest, too! But you know, it’s a great basic vinaigrette to have in your repertoire. It’s wonderful on many fall and winter salads.
This pasta salad, from the hearty greens to the cranberries and right down to the pine nuts, is a wonderful celebration of winter.
Certainly add some protein to this salad if you want to make it more of a main meal. It’s so delicious when you eat it right away. Warm and luscious and chewy. But your leftovers will be equally good cold or at room temperature.
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 15 ounces of winter greens (I used a combo of kale, spinach & chard)
- 16 ounces of penne pasta
- 2 shallots, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 Tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup of dried cranberries
- 6 ounces of crumbled feta
- 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar
- 6 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 Tablespoons of honey
- the zest of 1 orange
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- salt & pepper to taste
- Make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients in a blender or mini food processor.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
- Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions for al dente pasta.
- Drain and place the pasta in a large serving bowl, set aside.
- Toast the pine nuts in a medium non stick skillet over med-high heat, stirring frequently until toasted, about 3 minutes.
- Pour them onto a plate to cool.
- Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over med-high heat in a large saute pan.
- Add the onions and saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute another minute.
- Add the greens and toss gently until just wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Add the cranberries & pine nuts.
- Season with a pinch of salt & a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper.
- Add the greens mix to the pasta and gently toss.
- Drizzle with desired amount of vinaigrette.
- Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.
- NOTE: The vinaigrette yields about 2 cups. I initially poured 1 cup over the pasta and served the remainder on the side.