Thursdays at the White House are known as Tex-Mex Thursdays, and there were (and still are) several good Tex-Mex specials on the menu on those days. I thought it would be fun to have a little #TBT to the Tex-Mex Thursdays, and my friend Matthew Wendel has graciously agreed to supply a monthly recipe for these scrumptious occasions. Today, his recipe for Mexican pasta salad is simple and so delicious!
Here’s what he said:
This pasta salad was a favorite at the Crawford Ranch, especially in the hot summer months in Texas. I served it often for large buffet-style lunches for the President’s Economic Team and the senior staff. It is so versatile, and can be assembled up to a day in advance. The pasta itself has so much flavor because you add the vinaigrette when the pasta is hot – so it soaks up all the goodness. That is the key to this pasta salad.
Matt says the salad is even better the next day. I love it because it pulls together two popular food cultures that don’t often intersect: Greek and Mexican. The feta, olives and onions are all Greek to me, but the chilies and cilantro are strictly south of the border. By the way, this recipe yields a big bowl of salad, so you may want to consider halving it.
Mexican Pasta Salad by Matt Wendel
Prep time: 40 minutes
- 1 16-ounce box of large shell pasta
- 1 12-ounce bottle of Girard’s Champagne Vinaigrette
- 1 6-ounce bag of baby spinach, or more if desired
- 1 16-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
- 12 ounces fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 16 ounces whole, pitted kalamata olives
- 12 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves – rolled up and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
For a touch of Tex-Mex add:
- 1 small bunch cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 3 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
- Prepare pasta as directed on the package. (Make sure to add a little olive oil and salt to the water)
- Drain pasta. While pasta is still hot, stir in half of the Champagne vinaigrette and add half of the parmesan cheese.
- Mix and let cool.
- Once pasta is cool, mix in the remaining ingredients and add more of the vinaigrette, if needed.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Let pasta chill in refrigerator.
- This pasta is great when served with grilled chicken shrimp or salmon.