When I was a kid, my mom felt it was very close to rude to serve a salad that required a knife to enjoy at the table. Perhaps why, today, a chopped salad is one of my fave choices eating out or in.
Of course, my chopped salad today is a far cry from the lettuce, tomato, and radish version my mom would make. “The gen’ral,” my dad, was a picky eater so our salads reflected that. The Gen’ral would most decidedly not care for this chopped salad, but I am OK with that.
•Kalamata olives, pitted
•Feta cheese, crumbled
*I use shredded Green Leaf lettuce and chopped Romaine, but feel free to use whatever lettuce(s) you like.
First, cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and, yes, rinse (preferable for pasta salad).
Transfer the pasta to a small container and add dressing just to cover.
This is important. Stir, cover, and stash in the fridge overnight. The next day, take a look. The pasta will have absorbed all that dressing, and the flavor, and is now ready for the salad.
To blanch the asparagus, trim the bottom woody stems off the stalks, then wash and let soak in a bowl of water while you bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Once boiling, add the asparagus and blanch for 2-1/2 to three minutes, until bright green and still a bit crispity.
Immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking any longer and to lock in that bright green.
Remove the cooled asparagus from the ice water and dry completely before slicing and adding to your salad.
A note on the salad: the list I provided is just a guideline, based on who we are having over for dinner. I sometimes swap out crumbled bleu cheese for the Feta, and will add sliced roasted beets, hard cooked eggs, and croutons. Follow your tastes.
Toss the pasta together with the asparagus and whatever other add-ins you like in a bowl without the lettuce, then cover tightly until just before serving.
Adding the lettuce at the last minute ensures that it is fresh and crispy, and also makes the salad easier to transport when your job is to “bring the salad.”
When you are ready to serve, choose a bowl bigger than you think you will need, add the lettuce and your add-ins, then toss well, with more dressing of your choice, or, without, and allow folx to dress theirs as they like.