I got this recipe from my mother-in-law, Lucia, who is the consummate hostess. She has an incredible knack for making everyone feel at home. Her house in Palm Springs, complete with basketball court and swimming pool, is the perfect hangout for family and friends. While we all know it’s hard work, she somehow makes entertaining seem effortless. She disappears into the kitchen for a moment only to reappear with a casual, yet very tasty poolside spread that has something for everyone.
This refreshing pasta salad is one of her secrets. With just a few ingredients, it is simple, filling, and has lots of flavor. It’s convenient to make ahead of time and tastes even better the next day. It’s the perfect dish for a crowd, hungry at different times. She prepares a big bowl so that guests can serve themselves at anytime.
The recipe calls for mild Ortega green chiles but you can substitute spicier ones if you prefer. I added grape tomatoes to Lucia’s recipe for their flavor and color.
Note: The dressing contains a raw egg which is incorporated into the hot pasta. (Please see raw egg warning below.)
Yield 4 to 6 servings
For the Dressing
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
salt and pepper, to taste
For the Pasta
8 ounces corkscrew pasta
10 ounces fresh spinach, stemmed and roughly chopped
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
8 oounces deli ham, chopped
4 ounces mild Ortega diced green chiles
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 ounces parmesan cheese, for garnish
To make the dressing, place egg in a bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly add the extra virgin olive oil to the egg and whisk until thickened. Add the parmesan cheese, white wine vinegar, and ground cloves and whisk until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cook corkscrew pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain well. Toss the hot pasta with the dressing until the pasta is well coated. Add the mozzarella, ham, green chiles, and tomatoes and toss to combine the dressing. Cover and chill for 4-5 hours.
Garnish with more parmesan cheese before serving.
*RAW EGG WARNING
Use caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.
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