Birthday Love: Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta Pasta Salad

Very festive birthday weekend!  From my birthday cupcakes from Amanda at work, to cards in the mail and dropped at the door, to a legit dinner out on Friday night with Greg and my parents, to double yoga on Saturday to a bountiful haul of facebook love and a classic dinner club celebration at Lance and Dawn's made for a wonderful weekend.

Amanda baked the cutest cupcakes in my favorite flavors:  vanilla cake and lemon frosting and vanilla cake and coconut frosting.  The lemon frosted ones were decorated as tennis balls.  Adorable and really good!

Friday night dinner was at the fabulous "The Northside Social" in Broad Ripple on College in a vintage strip mall.  Swanky lounge areas and very metro white/black seating.  Very polished.  Loved it.  Potato-crusted basa fish with lemon-butter sauce is truly as silky delicious as it sounds.  Deconstructed banana cream pie for dessert.  Very nice treat!

Lance is quite the chef, serving lovely roasted lamb shanks and his signature twice-baked potato casserole. Dawn surprised me with birthday decorations and peach cobbler because she knows peach anything is my favorite.

And now it's my day off and I'm completely grounded with a sore throat and a pounding headache cold.  I was going to be so productive today, but instead I finally crawled out of my sweats at 10 and headed out for one quick appointment before turning around and calling it a day.  Working in the mall has turned out to be the germ-fest I dreaded volunteering in the girls' elementary schools.  Yuck.  I am defenseless against germs from children.  Sorry, but it's true.  Kind of like how I hated cats when I was little because I was allergic to them (a logical defensive mechanism).  I just don't love being around random children because they always make me sick (a logical defensive mechanism only to me).  I'm so far removed from little ones that they barely annoy me anymore.  In fact I think most are just adorable when happy (we're being honest here, not all of us are made to be preschool teachers but thank goodness some of us are), but their little sneezing noses, coughing mouths and sticky hands just destroy me.  So if you don't see me out and about the next few days, I'm doing us both a favor trying to rest and not spread the crud.

The silver-lining here is that I feel better sitting up than lying down, so I'll be able to catch up on paperwork and blog-posting.  I'm going to have a recipe published Friday in the Indianapolis Star and I'm pretty excited about it.  The paper will link you to this blog, so it might be nice if there were some recipes here for new readers to enjoy.  Today's post is a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa that I never tried until a great cook, Kathy (friend of Tammy and fellow Purdue alumnus and tennis girl), brought it to Greg's birthday tailgate at Purdue.  So many recipes, so many cookbooks it's awesome when you find a good one you originally overlooked.  Remember it was my birthday and I really don't care for olives, so this dish that I'm sure would be greatly improved by the addition of olives is shown on my blog without them.

tossing the pasta salad

Sun-dried Tomatoes and Feta Pasta Salad

1/2 pound spiral pasta
kosher salt
olive oil
basket of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3/4 C kalamata olives, pitted and chopped or sliced (optional)
1 C (plus another 1/2 C if you love it) feta cheese crumbles
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp capers, drained
1 C Italian/flat-leaf parsley leaves, packed
2 T red wine vinegar
6 T olive oil (I used 4, the salad is just not as loose without extra oil)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 C freshly grated Parmesan

Cook pasta as directed on package with a good tablespoon of salt in the water.  Drain and allow to cool.  In a large serving bowl, toss together pasta, tomatoes, olives (if using), feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
For the dressing combine sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, capers, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Toss dressing into salad along with grated Parmesan.

Serves 6-8

dressing in food processor

see how thick my dressing is?  feel free to add more olive oil  


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