Autumn Crunch Pasta Salad
Servings: 6 as a side; 3 as a main
- 5 ounces (142 grams) fresh spinach, washed and destemmed
- 1 1⁄2 cups dry, small pasta (i.e. Orecchiette)
- 3⁄4 cup celery, chopped
- 3⁄4 cup dried cranberries
- mandarin oranges, sectioned
- 1 large Granny Smith Apple
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped or halved
- Optional: crumbled Feta or Goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2-4 tablespoons white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
- While the pasta cooks (according to package directions), prepare the dressing. In a blender or food processor combine the white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar (amount based on how sweet of a dressing you want), onion powder, and paprika. Blend or pulse for about 10 seconds. Slowly add in the oil and pulse until just combined. Stir in the poppyseeds. If you don't have a blender or food processor you can combine the ingredients in a bowl or mason jar and whisk (or shake jar) vigorously.
- Drain the pasta once it's cooked through and immediately toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the pasta then place in fridge to chill. This gives the pasta time to soak in the flavor of the dressing.
- Combine the spinach with the chopped celery in a large bowl. Add in the cranberries and the mandarin orange segments. Thinly slice the apple (leave on peel) then toss with lemon juice before adding to the salad.
- Pour dressing over salad and toss.
- Add in the completely cooled pasta and toss with the rest of the salad.
- Toast the pecans by placing them in a single layer in a dry saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until the pecans are barely fragrant. Watch carefully as the pecans are easily burned. You can also use candied pecans if desired.
- Top the salad with the pecans and (if desired) crumbled goat or feta cheese. Serve immediately.
Note: When saved as leftovers this salad can become overly soggy, therefore it’s best to eat it all up the same day it is made.