Here in Nova Scotia the weather is starting to cool off and as much as I love salad, only a warm salad will do for me right now. Bring on the warmth! So I created a warm spinach salad with rotini pasta, sauteed mushrooms topped with a sun-dried tomato and garlic salad dressing and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Divine! A fantastic way for me to eat my fridge:
As I am working my way through my fridge I seem to also be eating my pantry. I love Catelli’s Smart Pasta line. White pasta with lots of fibre, what could be wrong? But I only had one serving left so I decided to add it to my salad. A perfect way to make room in my pantry and make my salad that much more interesting.
In my fridge were two lonely sun-dried tomatoes, not enough to do a big meal with but I knew that until I used them, I would not go out and buy more. I had some spinach leftover from making manicotti the other day and these mushrooms that were a couple of days old that would be great sauteed.
My Dad’s wife Julie shared this sun-dried tomato salad dressing with me years ago and I have been making it ever since. Most salad dressings these days are just some oil and lemon juice which is boring! I like big and bold flavours so bring on the garlic and vinegar!
Using my mini chopper I combined 1/3 cup of olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I usually add even more), 2 tbsp finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, 1/4 tsp sugar, 2 cloves of garlic, minced and salt and pepper. I whizz it up after doing the basic chopping to get this:
A beautiful foodie elixir! But be warned, this salad dressing is for the bold. Strong, powerful and potentially overwhelming. I LOVE it! Best to be eaten as a couple or when your sweetie is away, the garlic makes its presence known for a long, long time.
I try to have this dressing quite regularly because raw garlic is a powerful cancer prevention and fighter food. It really cleanses the body, even though it does not cleanse the palette. For those who do not like super strong salad dressing like I do, you could of course make it with roasted garlic instead. Sun-dried tomatoes are high in vitamin C which is necessary to pair with spinach in order to absorb the iron in the salad. I usually drink juice as I eat this salad to ensure there is enough vitamin C for vitamin absorption. Don’t let those nutritional goodies go to waste!
I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil, added a little bit of butter and fresh thyme, then deglazed with some white wine for additional flavour. When the pasta was done I tossed it in with the mushrooms to get the flavour everywhere. I grated Parmesan finely over the top and there you have it, a restaurant-quality dish. The best part? I had absolutely everything already in my home to make it therefore this salad did not cost me one extra penny this week.
I had this for lunch with my leftover Quiche Lorraine, which tasted even better the next day! A cozy warm salad with lots of garlicky kick and a slice of hot quiche on a cold and wan November afternoon for free. Life is good.