A few months ago a pasta salad presented on PBS's Everyday Food caught my eye. It used a pasta shape I really like (cavatappi) and two of my favorite things -- goat cheese and asparagus. What made this dish unusual was that the dressing was made just of the goat cheese and some of the hot pasta cooking water. The hot water turned the crumbly cheese into a creamy sauce. I have made the salad as written a couple of times, once for a potluck. But I knew that, more importantly, I'd be storing that goat cheese technique in my back pocket for future use. (See the full recipe here: Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta with Roasted Asparagus).
So, this afternoon I was contemplating supper, and remembered that I had some goat cheese in the refrigerator I needed to use. The problem was that had gotten really strong, and as much as I like goat cheese, eating this stuff straight wasn't going to be all that pleasant. I was trying to think of a way to dilute it, when it hit me to make a salad similar to the Everyday Food recipe, but just add some mayonnaise to smooth out the flavor. I didn't have asparagus on hand, but did have broccoli. No chives, but yes green onions. So ... I cooked some Barilla Plus Pasta Elbow Macaroni.
Side note: Barilla Plus is my pasta of choice these days because I'm trying to eat whole grain whenever possible, and as much as I love brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc. I just. Don't. Care. For. 100%. Whole. Wheat. Pasta. (That doesn't make me a bad person, does it? Didn't think so.) Barilla Plus is a nice intermediary pasta with the advantage of a little protein boost. It doesn't come in cavatappi (at least in my store) but the elbows also have little ridges like cavatappi and do have a little twist to them.
Anyway, back to the pasta salad. During the last few minutes of cooking the pasta, I added a good fistful of broccoli florets. Drained and rinsed the pasta/broccoli, reserving a little of the water. Put the goat cheese in a bowl, added the hot water and stirred until smooth. Small plop of mayo (reduced-fat, of course), squeeze of lemon juice, sliced scallion. Added the pasta and broccoli along with just a little slivered leftover grilled chicken, along with some quartered Cherokee-purple-type cherry tomatoes fresh from the farmer's market this morning.
I was very pleased with the end result, and will definitely be doing this again.