A few weekends ago, Joey and his best friend decided to fire up our smoker in the backyard and fill it with everything from several racks of ribs to a pork loin.
They tended the fire all day, hanging out in the garage with a set of washer boards to get out of the sun.
Parts of the house still smell a little smoky, and I can definitely tell which clothes I had up to dry while the smoking was going on when I pull them out of the dresser in the morning, but it was very much worth it.
As they wound down their cooking and we prepared to feast for dinner, I decided to whip up a side dish to complement smoked meats and found a delicious one that was even better the next day out of the fridge.
The recipe I made comes from the blog “Budget Bytes.” You can find the post at https://www.budgetbytes.com/roasted-garlic-pasta-salad/. I didn’t feel the need to add anything to this recipe other than suggesting getting a large head of garlic.
Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad
- 1 large head of garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound small pasta I used tri-color spirals
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- Chop the top half inch off the head of garlic and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle the top with olive oil and cover the bowl. Microwave on high, one minute at a time, until the garlic cloves are soft (poke them with a fork to save burning yourself).
- Remove the garlic from the microwave and set aside to cool.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, but save 1/2 cup of the cooking water and put the pasta back into the pot with the burner now off.
- While cooking the pasta, squeeze the garlic cloves, and they’ll pop easily out of the skin. Mince the garlic and place it into a mixing bowl.
- Add the ricotta, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup pasta water to the mixing bowl and stir until smooth.
- In the warm pot you cooked the pasta in, add the spinach, ricotta sauce and cherry tomato halves to the pasta and stir so that everything is coated well and the spinach starts to wilt.
- Add the parmesan cheese and more salt and pepper if needed.
- You can serve this warm or cold.
This was a great pairing with the guys’ smoked smorgasbord, and I liked that it was a salad that didn’t use eggs or mayonnaise, so it would be perfect to take to an outdoor party where you may not have refrigeration readily available.
When I make this again, I’ll roast two heads of garlic instead of just one to really amp up the flavor, but it had all the stuff I really like—cheese, garlic, fresh veggies and pasta.
And I was thankful for the guys taking their Saturday to prepare lots of food to fill the refrigerator for awhile. Barbecue leftovers are some of the best kind.
This piece first appeared in print on June 14, 2018.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.