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Whole foods smoked mozzarella pasta salad with spinach
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Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad Recipe with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Creamy Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad with Penne Pasta, baby spinach, roasted red bell pepper and an outstanding Parmesan cream sauce. This unique and hearty pasta salad recipe, that can be made in advance, will wow guests at your next pot luck. A Whole Foods Recipe.
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 304kcal

Ingredients

  • THE PARMESAN DRESSING:
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 Pinch New Mexico Red Chile Powder or cayenne
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • THE SALAD:
  • 1/2 pound penne pasta
  • 2 cups baby spinach packed, washed and stemmed
  • 2 small roasted red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella cheese diced, or smoked gouda
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Prepare cheese and vegetables. Rinse the spinach and pat dry or use a salad spinner. Chop the roasted red bell pepper. Cut the smoked mozzarella into small cubes and grate the Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  • TO PREPARE THE PARMESAN DRESSING
  • Combine the Parmesan cheese, parsley, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, red chile powder, and salt and pepper. Use a blender or food processor to blend the dressing creamy and smooth.
  • TO PREPARE THE SALAD
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooked pasta water, into a colander. Run cold water over it until pasta comes to room temperature. Let the pasta drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, spinach, roasted red peppers, smoked mozzarella and grated parmesan. Add sauce and stir well.
  • If the pasta salad seems dry or stiff, add some of the cooked pasta water to the salad, 1/4 cup at a time. The starchy water will make things creamier.

Video

Notes

Can this salad be made in advance? Yes. Once the salad is mixed together, seal the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The salad can be made a day in advance. This is where the pasta water trick come in handy. If you add some of the pasta water to the salad, it will be less likely to dry out overnight.
Make sure the pasta has cooled to room temperature before adding the smoked mozzarella. If the pasta is too warm, the cheese will melt. You want an end result with perfect little solid cubes of goodness.
Why Save Cooked Pasta Water? It’s liquid gold. It’s a must to add to any sauce for any pasta dish. It’s high in starch and this salty starchy water helps the sauce cling to the pasta and it helps thicken the sauce. It turns any pasta dish into a luxurious pasta dish. With that said, once you're done mixing this salad together, if it seems a little stiff or dry, just add 1/4 cup (at a time) of the pasta water to make it even creamier. 
Storing Leftovers: Seal well with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. This salad will stay fresh for up to two days.

Nutrition

Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 454mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1290IU | Vitamin C: 11.6mg | Calcium: 204mg | Iron: 1.1mg