Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pasta Salad

What's new you ask? Well, I've finally started volunteering at Swedish Hospital in their pharmacy! If I've been on this path to becoming a pharmacist, I better get some experience don't ya' think? It's better late than never is what I always say!

Let me tell you, volunteering at Swedish is 10X better than working at Macy's. No more sales goals, no more managers breathing down your neck to get sales when they took away commission and no more following customers around helping them find jeans and then being forced to up-sale and say "You should buy a belt as well." Maybe I'm just crazy but I tend to like to browse and look at clothes myself without a sales associate following me around and suggesting things that they "think" I need. Am I the only one that feels that way? That's why I hated retail because I hated having to follow customers around when I personally wouldn't want that as a customer myself.

I'm just glad I'm finally working in an environment with professionals that have reached the goal that I want to reach. I still have a lot to learn but I love volunteering at Swedish so far! Not to mention, it brings me back to my high school days because my high school is just across the street.

Now, let's get back to the food. This post is all about Pasta Salad, pasta meant to be cold. Add in anything on hand with pasta and some dressing and it's a great accompaniment to a protein like chicken, for lunch.

Last post I introduced my idea for a cooking show and because of that, I will now feature a new segment at the end of each post called "AJ's Secret". Really, it's just a tip to have a fool proof dish. So, here goes!

AJ's Secret:
  • Cook the pasta not to "al dente", but past it until it's fully cooked. Because the pasta is eaten room temperature or cold, the pasta will firm up in the fridge because of the starches present in the pasta. An "al dente" pasta is just too firm.
  • Before mixing the dressing with the pasta, make sure the pasta is completely at room temperature or cold. With creamy dressings, I notice that if you add in the dressing while still warm, it eventually causes the dressing to separate especially when making it ahead. Vinaigrette type dressings can be added warm or cold however.
  • Red Onion can be a bit strong in flavor. To take away the intense flavor, I pickled mine with vinegar and sugar. Blog post on Pickled Red Onion will be up soon!

Pasta Salad
Recipe by Me

1 lb Rotini Pasta
1/2 cup Caesar Dressing
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4 Red Bell Pepper, roasted and diced
1/4 to 1/2 cup Sundried Tomatoes packed in oil, drained and sliced
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced (I pickled mine)
1/4 lb Feta Cheese, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley (for color)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt and the dried Rotini Pasta. Cook the pasta until it is past the "al dente" stage. Drain and rinse with cold water until the pasta is no longer hot. Set aside.

The following ingredients are nothing more than cubing, grating, slicing and dicing. 
  • Grate parmesan cheese
  • Use jarred roasted red bell peppers or roast off a fresh one. I used a fresh one, only cutting a 1/4 piece from the pepper, rubbing with olive oil and popped it into a toaster oven on broil until the skin turns black. Remove and place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 5-10 min. Remove the skin and dice.
  • Slice sun dried tomatoes
  • Thinly slice red onion
  • Cube the feta cheese to bite sized pieces
Assembly: Toss the pasta with the Caesar dressing, salt and pepper. Then add in the parmesan cheese and toss. Add in the roasted red pepper, sun dried tomatoes and red onion, toss. Finally, add in the cubed feta, being careful not to break the cheese too much. Finish off with a sprinkling of parsley.

-Aaron John


  1. Hey AJ! Congratulations on your new job! I'm happy to hear your getting closer to what you want to do :) I like you could not work in sales because I just don't like people bugging me and following me around either. I guess I will have to have a different perspective now though when someone is lurking around me in the store!

    Great looking salad and I love the pickled onions in it!

    1. Thanks! Being forced to up-sale was definitely the worst part of being a sales associate!

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Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! :)

-Aaron John


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