Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lemia's EZ Trader Joe's Pasta Salad


It’s been forever since I’ve posted anything, so I’m going with my impulse today and just posting about what I’m doing. We’re off to a BBQ for dinner, so I’m starting Summer early and making my EZ Trader Joe’s Pasta Salad. My local store stopped carrying Spinach Fusilli, so I’m experimenting with new pastas in search of a good replacement.

I actually hate pasta salad – sorry, sis, that includes the one you make with the slimy cubes of cheddar - so one summer I vowed to create one that I would enjoy eating. This is the recipe that resulted. You only need to know how to chop and boil to make this.

All but two of the ingredients for this tasty pasta salad are available at Trader Joe’s, hence the name. #1 Sadly, the Trader Joe’s brand of capers is horrible, so either buy the brand name I list or another one that you trust. You may also make the salad without capers, if you choose. #2 Trader Joe’s does not have spinach fusilli, period. The flavor and texture of spinach fusilli really enhance this dish, so I don’t recommend substitutions, unless you can’t find spinach fusilli.

Lem’s EZ “Trader Joe’s” pasta salad

This recipe makes a large amount, more than enough to take to a potluck or picnic. My family doesn’t mind, though. They’ll eat it enthusiastically for a week solid!


            2 Jars “Trader Giotto’s Artichoke Antipasto” (12 oz. each)

            1 Jar “Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Red Peppers (or the yellow and red garlic 
                     fire roasted, for more color) (12 oz.)

            1 jar “Trader Joe’s Spanish Manzanilla Olives (14.5 oz)

            1 jar “Mezzetta Capers (4 oz.)

            6 cups  Spinach fusilli pasta (6 cups BEFORE boiling)*
                        You can substitute Barilla tri-color Rotini –1.5 boxes (18 oz./510 
                        grams). Today I’m trying Trader Joe’s Organic Vegetable 
                        Radiatore and also their Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli 
                        (a small side batch for my gluten-free efforts), so the capers may
                        end up the only ingredient that doesn’t come from TJoe’s!

            ½ teaspoon ground white pepper (or to taste)

            salt to taste


Drain the peppers and olives and fine chop them. Combine them with the Artichoke Antipasto, and the capers in a mixing bowl. Sometimes, the Artichoke Antipasto has some tough pieces, so you may want to get your hands in there and make sure the mixture doesn’t have hard lumps, but you don’t have to. Set aside the mixture so it’s ready when the pasta is still warm.

Break the pasta into smaller pieces if the spirals are longer than 1” before they are cooked. This is done most easily by applying an untwisting motion where you want to break the piece of pasta. You can do this while you watch television, long before you start the salad.

Boil the fusilli in well salted water until it is just a little underdone (i.e. chewy), then rinse it with cold water to slow/stop the cooking process. Don’t wait for the pasta to cool all the way.

Sprinkle white pepper over the pasta and mix it in.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.

Taste it and if necessary, sprinkle salt sparingly over the pasta and mix that in.

Now, let it sit in the fridge to cool.


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