How many of y'all cook with balsamic vinegar? I have only recently started using it. I've had it in meals when I've eaten out but it wasn't one of those ingredients that I kept in my own pantry, until now. And actually, I could really use your advice. I need help picking out a good one. Most recipes tell you to use a "good quality balsamic vinegar" but rarely is a recommended brand given. I interpret the words "good quality" as meaning "more expensive." Is that correct to assume? So I bought the slightly more expensive bottle (seen in picture below) and it was just fine but I know I've tasted better. It wasn't the most expensive bottle on the shelf but it was definitely not the bottom of the line. What brand is your favorite and how do you like to use it in recipes?
Ok here's the other, more fun thing, I need your help with. This whisk below was given to me by my friend Megan. Megan cracks me up. Not only is she absolutely sweet and would bend over backwards to help someone out but she comes up with some amazing zingers. I keep trying to get her on Twitter. Megan's sense of humor was made for Twitter. I am literally snorting out loud at some of her texts to me sometimes. Anyhoo, I was letting her know that the Chicken Whisk she gave me will be making his debut on the blog. And she asked me if I had named it yet. I told her, that so far, I just call him Chicken Whisk but he really should have a name with pizzazz.
I'm sure you can imagine the hilarious name game that ensued. We went back and forth with name ideas. These were just a few: Reggie, Chuck, Cluck, McNugget, General Tso, McLovin, Mother Clucker, Sir Pecks-a-lot, Biscuit and Atila the Hen. So, I need your help in naming the chicken whisk. If you would please vote for your favorite name or if you have a different name, leave me a comment below! I'll go with whatever y'all choose - majority rules. And next time Chicken Whisk makes an appearance, we'll use his new name.
Now, about this recipe. Oh goodness, I love me some pasta salad. I just adore this twist on it The sweet balsamic dressing really makes this so different than your usual pasta salad recipes! I could still get the great taste of the Feta cheese and tomatoes and cucumbers and the dressing is just a nice, light accent flavor. Special thank you to Mary at Sweet Little Bluebird for this recipe!
1 (1 lb.) box Rotini pasta
Feta cheese (8 oz.), crumbled
1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
1/2 cup red onion, diced
Sweet Balsamic Dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. black pepper
I'm using an English cucumber here. They do not need to be peeled because the peel on these are very tender and mild-flavored. Just give it a good rinse in water and then slice.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse cooked pasta in colander with cold water (until pasta is cooled), drain well.
Put drained pasta in a large bowl then top with cheese, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers.
For the dressing, combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Whisk well to combine ingredients thoroughly. This will take a few minutes for the oil and sugar to blend. Be patient, it will blend.
Now, if you are serving this right away, go ahead and add all the dressing to the pasta, toss it together, then serve. If you are not serving right away, then wait to add dressing until right before serving (keep salad covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.)
Or, if you are going to eat this over the course of a couple of days, add the dressing as you eat it. This will keep the salad from soaking up all that yummy dressing while sitting in the fridge.
Then dig in! Such a refreshing pasta salad and lots of ways you can make this your own. I love black olives and I think they would be amazing in this. Also, if you want to make it more of a meal, try adding some sliced, grilled chicken!