A delightfully light pasta salad with smoked salmon, aromatic vegetables, dressed in a creamy basil pesto dressing. The pasta salad is ready in under a half hour, plus recommended chill time for best flavor.
1cupplain Greek yogurt(I use 2%; full fat is fine)
1/4cupmayonnaise(I use light; full fat is fine)
2tablespoonssweet pickle juice
2tablespoonsprepared basil pesto
for the pasta salad
16ouncesmedium shell pasta*
1small red bell pepper, small dice (to produce about 1/2 cup)
1/2cupsmall diced celery(about 2 ribs)
4sweet gherkin pickles, small dice**
2tablespoonsdiced red onion
1small scallion, chopped
4ouncessmoked salmon, shredded
2ouncesquality aged cheddar, sliced into small cubes (optional)
2hard boiled eggs, halved and sliced into small wedges, for garnish
seasoned salt or paprika, for colorful garnish
for the dressing
In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, yogurt, pickle juice, pesto, and a big pinch of salt. Add small amounts of water to create a very loose (but not watery) dressing. Taste - it should be vibrant and luscious. If you've added too much water, whisk in another tablespoon of mayo or yogurt.
Spoon out about a scant quarter cup of the dressing into a small bowl, cover, and place in the fridge for later.
for the salad
Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
In a medium bowl, add the peppers, celery, pickles, red onion, and scallions. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt, then mix with about a tablespoon of the dressing. The veggies should be lightly coated. Set aside.
Add about 1/3 of the cooled pasta to the large bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat. Fold in about 1/3 of the veggies. Add another 1/3 of the pasta and 1/3 of the veggies, and fold in. Repeat with the final batch of pasta and veggies. The pasta salad should be nicely coated with the dressing.
Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
finish and serve
Before serving: test the pasta for dryness. It will probably have absorbed a good deal of the dressing, and could use some loosening up. Add a small amount of cold water (just a drizzle) to the reserved dressing and stir. Spoon some into the pasta and fold: the pasta salad should loosen.
Fold in the smoked salmon and cheese (if using). Taste the salad to make sure there's enough dressing. If not, add more until it reaches your liking. Spoon the pasta salad into a serving bowl and top with the hard boiled eggs. Sprinkle the seasoned salt or paprika lightly over the salad, for extra color.
*If you can only find 12 or 14 ounces, that's fine, just scale back a bit on the vegetables. Prepare the same amount of dressing, although you might not need all of it.** If, after measuring out the ingredients, your jar of pickles has more pickles than juice, just top off with plain white vinegar to cover the pickles.If you'd rather lean dill, as mentioned on the blog, substitute the basil pesto with 1 tablespoon of minced fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons of dried dill. Or, use both dill and basil pesto. It's quite tasty!My favorite seasoned salt is the 4/S blend by Penzey's. It's salty and smoky and wonderful (not an affiliate, I just love their stuff).
Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad was originally published on https://soupaddict.com/smoked-salmon-pasta-salad/