Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Summer meets Fall Pasta Salad: Butternut, Tomato and Chickpea Pasta Salad

I've been suffering from Fall-weather envy the past few weeks. Watching Ohio State football games has been torture, the fans are in hoodies! The weather finally dipped into the 70's here, a temperature I haven't seen since May. My first complete summer as a Floridian has ended, and it was a rough one, record-setting over 3 months of consecutive days above 90*. 
Ok, I'm done complaining.

So I was all ready to give summer a big farewell and dive into fall and all of it's flavors until I saw this little butt staring up at me. Summer's last ditch effort. How could I possibly say goodbye to the season that has brought me so much delicious produce, plump tomatoes, sweet corn, juicy peaches, and Lord knows how many zucchini! 

I picked up the lovely Heirloom tomato, and felt inspired. I had big plans for this guy, I just didn't know what. Yet.

I left Whole Foods, got in my car and pondered the changing weather. It was cooler, crisper, but the humidity was still there, and a warm breeze mingled with a cool wind. 
Perhaps Fall isn't my favorite season. Maybe I can create a new season... Sum-all? Fal-ummer? Late summer, early fall, the last of the tomatoes, early squash. 

I saw in the World Market circular that their Fall goods were stocked, so I ventured over. I was met by these little darlings.

Then it hit me. Summery pasta salad meets fall flavors.

I did a little searching and found Ina Garten's Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette. It was the perfect starting point for this meal. Her fall-inspired salad had squash, maple, cranberries, and apple. My mind injected summery tomatoes, pasta salad, and chick peas. The mixture of sweet cranberries and savory vinegar-laced pasta, crunchy walnuts and creamy squash, and juicy, bright tomato... it was epic.
I think I have a new favorite season.

Tips and Trades:
-As with any pasta salad, the pasta is interchangeable. Some fun shapes can be found here: http://www.pastashoppe.com/
-Substitute any bean variety, such as kidney beans for more color and antioxidants.
-Can't find shallots? Use red onion instead.

Summer meets Fall Pasta Salad: Butternut, Tomato and Chickpea Pasta Salad
inspired by Ina Garten

2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. EVOO, divided
Kosher salt and pepper
6 oz. pasta, any short cut
1 shallot, minced (about 2 tbsp.)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. pure Maple Syrup
1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary
2 c. cooked garbanzo beans (or 15 oz. can, drained and rinsed)
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 large heirloom tomato, seeded and diced (about 1 c.)
4 c. mixed greens
Parmesan wedge

Preheat oven to 400*
Toss squash, cinnamon, 1 tbsp. EVOO, salt and pepper on a baking sheet.
Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until squash is caramelized and tender.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt heavily, drop in pasta and cook to al dente.
In a small dish, whisk together shallot, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, rosemary and 1 tbsp. EVOO.
Drain pasta, do not rinse, pour into a mixing bowl.
Add beans, cranberries, walnuts and tomato to the pasta.
Add half of the vinaigrette, toss well. 
Place the mixed greens in a serving dish, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and toss.
Remove squash from the oven, cool for a minute to allow it to firm up.
Add to pasta, toss very gently.
Pour pasta mixture over mixed greens.
Top with shaved parmesan and serve warmed.

Note: This can be served chilled, but do not dress greens, and keep pasta/squash mixture separate from greens until serving.


Kelly said...

I love the idea of transitional dishes that straddle summer and fall and this looks like a great version. Lately though I must say it's been SO chilly in Chicago that I am 100% in fall mood. I've turned the heat on. I've made soup twice already. Yep, think fall's here.

Joanne said...

I was pretty sure fall was my favorite holiday as well until I fell in love with heirloom tomatoes this summer. Sigh. This pasta salad sounds like the perfect way to say goodbye to the summer!