Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT}

A sweetly savory summer side dish or light vegetarian supper--pasta combined with grilled fruit, goat cheese, herbs and nuts. From MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts

I want to talk about barriers to successful grilling.
[Those of you with your grills hooked up to your natural gas line, skip ahead to the recipe. Lucky ducks. The rest of you, read on.]
See, for 9 of the past 10 years we have tried--key word--to be successful at grilling.  Our grill is the largest tiny portable one there is, and it has a nice loop to hold a tiny propane tank (the kind a restaurant might use for creme brûlée). Each time we wanted to grill out, we'd carry the grill out of the shed, set it up, preheat, put the food on the hot grill, and then . . . when it was time to turn the meat, the small propane tank was empty and the grill was cooling. When this scenario is played out often, it makes you want to just crank up the oven and heat up the house!
Last summer I decided to tackle our grilling barrier head on.  We got a standard size propane tank, one that has to be carried separately from our little grill. Finally I could trust that when I started the fire I'd be able to see the cooking through, and with that our grilling changed.  We do store our grill in the garage (because we've since moved to a house with a garage) so once it's hauled out and set up I like to grill anything handy and used the grilled items in future meals.  I've used this technique in my Grilled Veggie Ciabatta Pizza, but now I'd like to share a terrific picnic side dish or light summer supper:  Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese.

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts

At its heart this a recipe for macaroni and cheese, so it's no surprise that I got the recipe from MELT: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese (link to the author's website).  I received a copy of this terrific cookbook last fall and have made several recipes with it, including Macaroni and Cheese in a Pumpkin and Pumpkin Cranberry Maple Kugel.
One of the first recipes that caught my eye was an orzo salad with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and grilled peaches. Since I eat seasonally I figured I'd need to wait until peach season to try it--but first I found myself with some fresh figs at the same time  I found Humboldt Fog marked down at the fancy cheese counter.  Score! This tasted so yummy that the name--Humboldt Fog--stuck and I'm always on the lookout for it in the marked down bin.

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts

The next time I came across the cheese coincided with cored pineapple selling for the same price as whole pineapple.  I prefer not to pay for the parts that just go into the compost anyway, so I picked up a container of prepped pineapple. While we had the grill going for steaks, I whipped up the marinade and tossed the pineapple in to coat.  I was out of orzo, so I subbed in elbow macaroni. 

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts

This savory-sweet pasta salad is a refreshing addition to summer meals. We prefer it served freshly tossed or at room temperature (do not microwave to reheat the leftovers).
Note:  I can vouch for grilling figs and pineapple in this salad, and I utterly trust Stephanie's and Garrett's recommendation of grilled peaches.  I'd guess that roasting strawberries or raspberries would also go nicely.  As for pasta shapes--anything little seems to work well.

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts
Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} (serves 6-8 as a side)

2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
½ pineapple, cored and cut into spears OR 6-8 fresh figs, halved OR 3 peaches, halved
10 ounces pasta (I've used orzo and elbow macaroni
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped mint
⅓ cup chopped pistachios
¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste
6 ounces Humboldt Fog cheese, rind removed and crumbled into bite-sized chunks

In a large size bowl mix together honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt.  Toss fruit with marinade and set aside for 10 minutes while you preheat grill to medium heat. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Once the grill is hot, remove the fruit from the marinade, reserving marinade in bowl. Grill the pineapple (or figs, or peaches) for 5 to 10 minutes, turning after a few minutes to get char marks on both of the cut sides of the pineapple. Cut into bite sized pieces and return to the bowl. Add cooked pasta, herbs, nuts, pepper and another ¼ teaspoon salt.  Toss together. Scatter cheese over top, toss gently to combine, and taste--add additional salt or pepper as necessary. Delicious slightly warm or at room temp.

What are some barriers to grilling that you've overcome?

Pasta Salad with Grilled Fruit and Goat Cheese {Recipe from MELT} | Farm Fresh Feasts

8 comments:

  1. I've had excellent luck with a small Weber charcoal grill. It takes about 20 minutes to be ready for the food to hit the grates, but it has produced many years of delicious results for us. I can't wait for our weather to be consistent enough to be able to count on grilling on a regular basis. :)

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    1. Julie,
      I'm so glad for you--with space at a premium little and charcoal does the trick. We're debating a new grill, with a burner on the side. I may never turn on the oven when it's over 80 degrees outside.
      Thanks!

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  2. Hi Kirsten, just stopped by to let you know that you've been featured over at Carole's Chatter today. Cheers

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    1. Carole,
      Thanks so much for the feature! I appreciate it!

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  3. You just combined some of my favorite items: fruit and cheese. I even have peaches in my freezer, although the Hubby is working on prepping the grill for the season. The whole thing needs to be cleaned, a disgusting job so I'm thrilled he's tackled the project.
    This pasta salad looks and sounds incredible delicious. I can't wait to try it.

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    1. Meghan,
      I won't say that we're buying a new grill to avoid cleaning . . . but . . . well, we're not. It's actually pretty clean since we keep using it.
      I think you'll love this pasta salad.
      Thanks!

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  4. Hmmm, I've never thought of adding fruit to my pasta salad, but I bet it tastes great. Thanks for sharing with us at Simple Supper Tuesday.

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    1. Cindy,
      I'm always looking for tasty and easy and cool salads for summer. Thanks for hosting!

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