Once upon a time, we used to eat quite a bit of pasta salad. I do think, though, that we overdid it, as the very thought of a pasta salad has everyone groaning in that "oh gawd, not again!" kind of way - me included.
However, just recently, my tastebuds have been tickled by the idea of some pasta salads - mostly the type that have some twist or edge to them and aren't made with just mayonnaise. My tolerance for high fat dishes has significantly reduced in the last few years, in direct correlation to how my waistline has disappeared, it would seem.
I remember last summer (remember summer? You know, sunshine, barbecues, long tall glasses of cool citrus drinks? I agree - it's difficult to recall when the rain is coming horizontally across the garden) when we had a barbecue and I made a pasta salad to go with the barbecued meats. I ate some and we wound up throwing the rest away after two days of it sitting in the fridge.
As such, you might understand my nervousness at serving up this pasta salad.
However, it was a resounding success. The big difference lies in the greek yoghurt that cuts through the richness of the mayonnaise, along with the curry flavours, sharpness of the apple and sweetness of the mango chutney.
As son & heir commented - it's a bit like a pasta salad version of Coronation Chicken, which is one of his favourite things to do to some leftover roast chicken. In fact, if you were looking to make a more main course of this salad, just add in some cold roast chicken!
We had ours with some roasted pork chops and halved Tomkin tomatoes and it went down very nicely indeed. Incidentally, if you ever come across the Tomkin tomatoes do give them a go, as they were deliciously sweet and juicy.
The recipe (from BBC Good Food Magazine) called for celery, but I didn't have any celery on hand at the time and the shops didn't have any either. Apparently the dire "summer" we're having of torrential rain is causing havoc amongst the vegetable growers and loads of celery is just dying in the fields. I did have a Braeburn apple, however, and cut that into matchsticks to use instead. Next time, I'd definitely include the apple along with the celery as it gave a lovely piquancy and welcome juiciness to the mix.
We had a little left over that I didn't get to until a day and a half later, but it was just as good. As such, it'd be a great salad to make in advance of a barbecue or pot luck buffet. The apple didn't leak juice and the whole thing was, if anything, better for having sat for a while allowing the flavours to marry up nicely.
I won't push my luck and have this again too soon - but I will do it again and if you're going through a pasta salad liking phase, I would recommend it!
CURRIED PASTA SALAD (feeds 4)
200g pasta (penne or spirali are good)
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp rogan josh curry paste
100g unflavoured greek yoghurt
juice of one quarter of a lemon
1 tbsp mango chutney
25g sultanas (or a large handful)
a large handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely
quarter of a large cucumber, deseeded and diced finely
1 Braeburn apple, cored, peeled and cut into matchsticks or fine dice
1 celery stick, de-stringed and cut into fine dice
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
1. Boil the pasta in salted water to manufacturer's instructions. (Usually around 8-9 minutes). Drain, then spread out in a flat layer on a plate, to cool.
2. Mix the mayonnaise, curry paste, yoghurt, lemon juice, chutney and sultanas with plenty of seasoning.
3. Add the pasta, coriander, cucumber, apple and celery and gently stir together until coated in the mayonnaise mixture.