Meatless Monday: Pasta Salad With Green Onion Dressing

Roger Mooking's pasta salad is anything but ordinary. It's made with a creamy green onion dressing and topped with crispy toasted coconut.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Sure, pasta salad is a picnic side dish. But why wait till Saturday afternoons to eat it? I don't care what anyone says -- pasta salad is dinner. You eat pasta primavera or  fettuccine Alfredo for dinner, why not pasta salad? Is it just because it's cold? Salads and sandwiches can be dinner, and they're both usually served cold. Cold soups are for dinner, and sometimes -- maybe not on the best days -- cereal is dinner. It's time pasta salad got a promotion. Yes, a scoop is lovely served with grilled picnic-y fare. But pasta salad makes a nice weekday meal on its own, too.

Roger Mooking isn't one to doctor up a box of bow ties with a bottle of Zesty Italian; the Everyday Exotic host is known for  making everyday recipes, well, exotic. His pasta salad does call for bow ties, but it's dressed with a homemade creamy green onion dressing. Red, yellow and orange peppers add color and crunch and toasted coconut mellows the bite from the onions in the dressing. Plus the unexpected sweet, crispy bits of are a welcome addition -- you'll wonder why you didn't add toasted coconut to pasta salad sooner.

This anything-but-ordinary pasta salad makes a mean lunch or dinner, but to round out your meal and add some protein, pair it with a black bean and mango salad.

Pasta Salad With Green Onion Dressing

Green Onion Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil

1 bunch green onions (scallions), trimmed, white bottoms and green tops separated

1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pasta Salad:
12 ounces bow tie pasta, cooked according to package directions
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch thick rings
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 orange pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
For the green onion dressing:

Heat a grill. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over the white portion of the green onions. Place the white bottoms of the green onions on the hot grill and grill until they are slightly softened and charred. Put the grilled whites of the green onions, the green onion tops, garlic, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and remaining olive oil in a blender, puree until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the sour cream. Season the dressing with salt, and black pepper, to taste. Set the dressing aside.

For the pasta salad:

Heat a grill. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl, toss with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over the red onion rings and season with salt.

Place the red onions on the hot grill and grill until softened, approximately 10 minutes, remove the onions from the grill. Coarsely dice the grilled red onions. Add the chopped red onions, red pepper, yellow pepper, orange pepper, chopped parsley, and green onion dressing to the pasta. Mix to incorporate all ingredients. Season the pasta with salt, and pepper, to taste. Garnish with toasted coconut.

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