Our posting has been much less frequent than last year but we have still been busy in the kitchen. This summer has been all about canning for me and I have been making batch after batch of jams, relishes, and pickles. Of course I took a couple of breaks from canning to do some party cooking. With both Thing 1 and Thing 2 having late summer birthdays there has been lots of cake and also this delicious pasta salad.
The nice thing about this salad is that it comes together quickly and makes enough to serve an army. Also, it tastes really yummy. The lime-y dressing is addictive and I find it hard to make it in advance because it ends up poured over everything from steamed vegetables to grilled chicken (which leaves nothing left for the salad). The dressing volume may seem like a lot but I found the pasta absorbs a lot more than one would think.
This dish was inspired by our love of guacamole and the desire to make a pasta salad that was light and fresh tasting, not heavy with mayo. The avocado gives it a creamy taste that is contrasted nicely by the lime dressing and the bite of the red onion. The sweet tomatoes finish it off. So grab a few of the last tomatoes we are likely to see for a while here in the northeast (*sniffle*) and whip this up for one last summer party.
Guacamole Pasta Salad
For the dressing
juice and zest of 3 limes (about 3/4 cup of juice)
1/4 cup mild vinegar such as white wine or champagne
3 shallots, chopped
2 tbls Dijon mustard
3 cups of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the salad
16 oz rotini or penne pasta
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes*
3 ripe avocados
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a blender combine the lime juice and zest, vinegar, shallots, and mustard. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour 2 cups of the dressing over the still-warm pasta and toss until well combined.
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and fold, along with the onions, into the pasta. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This can be made a day or two in advance.
Just before serving chop the avocados and fold them into the pasta. Top with additional dressing as desired (we found we needed quite a bit because the warm pasta absorbed a lot of the dressing) and lots of chopped cilantro. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately.
Serve this salad cold or room temperature. Because there is no mayonnaise it can safely sit out at a picnic or party for a while. The avocado will start to turn brown eventually so make sure not to add it until just before serving. This recipe serves a bunch but it can easily be halved to make a smaller amount.
* The first time I made this salad tomatoes weren’t in season and all I had was a couple of containers of bland-tasting tomatoes from the grocery store. To up their flavor I drizzled them with olive oil and roasted them on a sheet pan for a couple of hours in a 250 degree oven until they were shriveled and concentrated. You can do this with in-season tomatoes too. The flavor is extra delicious.