Last night for dinner I whipped up a delicious pasta salad. It was chock full of seasonal vegetables and tossed in a light, garlicky cream sauce. I got the idea from a few recipes I’ve seen on blogs that use avocado to make delicious, creamy sauces without actually using heavy cream.
Start with 1 pound of short pasta in any shape you like (elbows, bow ties, etc.). I used a fun shaped pasta from Trader Joe’s. Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente, making sure to salt the pasta water generously. Drain, transfer to a large serving bowl, and set aside to cool.
Prepare the following:
- 2 zucchini, sliced into rounds and the quartered
- 1 bag of broccoli, cut into tiny florets
- 2 ears of corn, kernels removed
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
- Handful of cilantro, chopped (basil would be delicious here, too, but we had cilantro on hand)
In a large skillet, heat a few teaspoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the zucchini and broccoli. Saute until slightly softened. Add the corn and sauté for another few minutes. You want the vegetables to be softened, but not overcooked. I like my corn to still have a bite to it. Remove from heat and add the sautéed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and set aside. Add a drizzle of olive oil and still to combine. After it has cooled slightly (you don’t want the cheese to melt when you add it!), add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and cilantro. Stir to combine. While the pasta and vegetables cool, prepare the sauce.
In a small food processor, combine a few teaspoons of olive oil and one clove of roasted garlic. Pulse until the garlic is minced. Add one small avocado, and 6 ounces Greek yogurt. Pulse until smooth. This will create a delicious, fluffy sauce. If you think it is too thick, thin it out with additional olive oil.
It is important that you do NOT add the sauce to the pasta/vegetables. Leftover pasta will turn brown from the avocado (because of enzymatic oxidative browning – one thing I remember from my food preparation class in college). To serve, portion out the pasta/vegetables into bowls. Top with a dollop of garlic and avocado cream and stir to combine. This is also good because each person can control how much sauce they have. Top with a few cubes of avocado and enjoy!
The result is a light, delicious, creamy pasta salad that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. The corn and tomatoes are sweet and brighten up the dish and serve as a good complement to the creamy, rich avocado and mozzarella.
A few notes/words of caution:
- To increase the protein quotient in this dish, you could add a can of rinsed and drained beans (garbanzo, black, or cannellini would all be delicious). You could also add cooked and diced chicken sausage.
- I may or may not have used 4 cloves of raw garlic in the sauce instead of one clove of roasted garlic, resulting in an overwhelming garlic flavor (I believe Artie actually said it burned his tongue…). I would highly NOT recommend doing this.
To store leftovers, put the sauce in a separate container from the pasta. The top layer of sauce may turn slightly brown but it will still be fine to eat. The pasta actually tastes better after the flavors have had a day to merry. I guarantee this dish will be making an appearance in our house all summer long!