Sep 30, 2013

Honey-Lemon Pasta Salad

I know that cold pasta salad probably doesn't seem super fall-ish as far as food goes, but I just love the ease of them.  I love that we can have lunch for several days from just a few minutes work.  On top of that, this particular pasta salad hits on all the high notes - sweet, salty, savory, crunchy, has (almost) everything.

After an evening filled with a kiddie birthday party, we still needed to eat dinner and luckily, there was a Fresh Market right next door.  I was looking for something light and as soon as I saw a honey-lemon pasta salad sitting in the display, I knew I had to try it.  I'm not proud to say that I ate way, way too much of it that night.

I pretty quickly found a recipe that looked really similar to the ingredient list and I bookmarked it away for another time.  I finally got around to making it at home and it was honestly just as good as the version in the store!

Honey-Lemon Pasta Salad
Printable Version

12 oz. small pasta shapes
½ bell pepper, finely diced (any color)
1 roasted red pepper (fresh or from a jar), finely diced
1 cup mandarin orange segments, drained, rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp. finely diced red onion
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dressing:
⅓ cup olive oil
zest of ½ lemon
juice from ½ lemon, plus more as needed
2 tbsp. honey, plus more to taste
pinch dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to cool down quickly; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add bell pepper, roasted red pepper, mandarin oranges, red onion and cilantro. Add pasta.
3. In a glass measuring cup, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, honey and thyme together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over pasta and toss everything together to combine well.
4. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, to let flavors meld. If necessary, drain some of the liquid. Top with the sunflower seeds just before serving.

idea from The Fresh Market, recipe slightly adapted from Me and My Pink Mixer

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