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“Say you just can’t live that negative way. If you know what I mean. Make way for the positive day.”
I discovered Bob Marley’s music the way most kids in the midwest did: stoned at a college party. I’m sure I was aware of Marley’s music in high school as I listened to a ton of FM radio, but I became a fan in those hazy dorm rooms and house parties where Exodus or Natty Dread or Rastaman Vibration was the soundtrack for the end of the night chill out. Being a somewhat pretentious upper-middle-class college kid, I was fascinated by Marley’s politics and spirituality even if in reality I had no real experiential point of reference for his struggle. Years later, this Brooklyn curmudgeon understands that the struggle is real and Marley’s true genius was not in political song, but the ability to uplift those struggling.
I am also fully aware that an old white guy in Brooklyn naming a pasta salad after a Bob Marley lyric may cross some PC or cultural appropriation line but just roll with it. It’s a silly pun, nothing more. Though I will say I believe clean simple vegetarian salads have the ability to transform negative vibes into positive ones. (Yeah, I realize how truly eye-rolling that last line is.)
Sketchy music pun aside, this is one of the core Meatless Monday recipes at the Grill Club. In the time it takes to boil some pasta, you’ll have a healthy satisfying meal made from items probably already in your fridge and pantry. I choose tri-color rotini for the visual appeal, and how it easily incorporates into the mix. Medium shells are another solid choice. I am not a fan of using elbow macaroni for this as they tend to get too mushy and lost in the salad.
The vegetables in this particular recipe are slanted toward an Italian style salad. I tend to look at this as a starting point. This is another of what I call “What’s In The Box” recipes. Whatever is in the fridge that will work marinating in the dressing can go into this salad. Have broccoli? Add it. Leftover roasted asparagus? Sure. Carrots? Why not. Fennel? Definitely! Beets? NO NO NO – NEVER EVER BEETS! The vegetable rule is whatever works as long as it is NOT BEETS!
I choose a simple red wine vinaigrette for dressing. I’m not looking for a major flavor punch from the dressing, just a little boost. I don’t want anything heavily acid or creamy as they tend to make the end results mushy. Basically, any light vinaigrette based dressing will work. I’ve even used bottled Greek dressing when I was feeling particularly lazy.
One note: while this can easily be ready to eat in 30 minutes, it gets better the longer everything gets to rest in the dressing. I generally make this during a Sunday meal prep to have on Monday. Finish with gorgonzola or fresh mozzarella, a bit of sea salt, and some Aleppo pepper. I’ve also been known to eat this served over a bed of fresh baby spinach.
Tri-color rotini, red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, sun-dried tomato, and scallions in a red wine vinaigrette topped with gorgonzola, sea salt, and Aleppo pepper
Makes about 3 quarts
A 12-ounce box of tri-color rotini
3 scallions, chopped
1 red pepper, medium dice
2 yellow peppers, medium dice
2 orange peppers, medium dice
5 ounces sun-dried tomato, medium dice
Red wine vinaigrette (see below)
Cook rotini according to the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place pasta in a large bowl.
Add scallions, peppers, and sundried tomato to the pasta and toss thoroughly. Add red wine vinaigrette and mix to coat. Season with extra salt, pepper, and basil to taste.
Let rest at least an hour before serving – even better overnight. Top with sea salt, Aleppo pepper, and gorgonzola if you want to get fancy.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon
3 garlic cloves, fine mince
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Place vinegar, Dijon, garlic, basil, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Continue whisking while adding the olive oil in a slow steady stream.