pasta salad, 2 ways {life}

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We'll start with the cheater version, shall we, since it's been so hot here in the US? (Although I did tell Erin that in Virginia we call that summer!) I posted a pic of this salad on Instagram, and my friend Mariah said, "Cheater?" Well, trust me it is. Just because it's pretty doesn't mean it couldn't be any easier to make. I'm almost embarrassed to write out the recipe for you, but here goes:  

Pint of cherry tomatoes (any/or any you happen to have growing in Neel's/your garden)
Container of those baby mozzarella balls
Handful of basil leaves, julienned
Pick your favorite vinaigrette. Ours is this. We used to make my mom bring cases of it up for us, but now our grocery store stocks it. Hooray!  We like the original.

Uh, cook the pasta and combine? How easy is that? Add the vinaigrette to taste and let the salad sit at room temperature a bit to allow the flavors to blend. You can serve it refrigerated, but I really do prefer it at room temperature.  

Now, if you have a bit more time... 

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So the cheater version was good, but it wasn't exactly what I was going for. Headed out the door and in a rush for a quick potluck dish? Perfect. Hot and tired weeknight where you only have energy for one burner? This is it. Still, I wanted to play around and do a little something more. 

For one thing, I had some nice ingredients that I wanted to work with. We had a lovely batch

of tomatoes, and I wanted to bring out their flavor by roasting them. I'd snagged some blood orange vinegar at the grocery store and was dying to try that in something. And remember the wonderful people we rented our condo from when we went skiing last winter? Well, turns out she makes mustard and sent us some. It's delicious, and I was anxious to use some of that. Finally, as much as I love me some baby mozzarella balls, I wanted the texture of this salad to be creamier and I wanted a sweeter flavor to counteract the tang of the blood orange vinegar. Enter the honeyed goat cheese. Regular goat cheese would be fine, I'm sure. Anyhoo, here she is. If you make it, let me know how it turns out.

Pasta Salad with Blood Orange and Mustard Vinaigrette  

For the salad:
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels (I use Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn)
1 handful julienned basil (hello, Neel's garden!)
Several tablespoons of honeyed goat cheese
Your choice of pasta, cooked to package instructions. I usually end up using half a pack or box for the three of us.


For the vinaigrette:
3 Tablespoons Blood Orange vinegar
1 Teaspoon mustard
4-5 Tablespoons oil (I picked olive, but you can choose any kind, really) or more, as needed.  

Combine the vinegar and mustard and mix well. Stirring constantly, slowly add the oil so that the two liquids are emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can increase or decrease the total amount of vinaigrette by adding or reducing ingredients, as long as you keep the ratios the same. Also, any other vinegar will do.

In a 400º oven, roast the tomatoes on a cookie sheet until they are soft and wrinkly (That's a real cooking term right there, wrinkly.)  When cool, combine all other ingredients in a bowl with the tomatoes, adding enough vinaigrette to bind them together. Again, let the salad sit long enough for the flavors to meld (at least half an hour), before serving and enjoy!