Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Strawberry & Avocado Pasta Salad

- with balsamic dressing

Well, it's finally happened. 

Almost 3 months after we got the bees, one of the dogs has been stung. Poor little Mariota. Just the other morning, I was letting the boys out- all four of them. I say four because my mother-in-law's Pekingese was staying with us. All of them were sniffing around in front of the bee hives. I hate when they get right in front because I'm always afraid they are going to get stung (obviously for good reason!). So, there I am, hollering away at the top of my lungs for the dogs to get away from the bees. They were all moving my way when I saw Mariota snap at his hind quarters. And then his front quarters. And then... the cries. Oh, I felt so bad for him. He came squealing up to me with no idea what had happened to his little body. 

I picked him up, him whimpering the whole way. I checked out his right front shoulder, and there it was. The evil stinger. I scraped it off and took him inside. While he favored his leg the rest of the day, luckily there was no swelling or allergic reaction. He has survived the incident and now has a healthy appreciation for the outdoors. And when I say a healthy appreciation, I mean he is doing his business and immediately wanting to come inside. 

I almost wish it had been any other of the dogs who got stung. It's going to take the little guy a while to get over this.

And why am I talking about bees? So I can talk about strawberries! I wish I'd had garden-grown strawberries for this salad, but my strawberry plants have just now started to blossom. I'm growing Alpine strawberries, which from what I've read from the University of Kentucky's agriculture program, fruit in mid to late June in Kentucky. I'm excited! Just Monday, I noticed 3 blossoms. By yesterday, Tuesday, I counted about 20 blossoms. By the same logic, I should have a ton of blossoms today. I haven't got outside yet, so we'll see :-)

I'm expecting a good crop from pretty much everything in my garden by the end of the season. It's only June, and I have so many little fruits on my tomato plants. This is the first year I've had fruits on my tomatoes in June. I'm crediting the glut of bees we have running around the property. I hope they are as diligent with my strawberries!

While I didn't have garden strawberries (boo store-bought) for my pasta salad, I did have mint to use. I actually have 2 mint varieties growing right now. One is growing nicely in a pot, above. 

The other is growing on the outside of my herb garden. You know what they say about mint. While the hubby enjoys killing this mint whenever he can, I kind of appreciate it. The potted mint tastes more savory to me than the mint growing near the herb garden, which has a distinctly more sweet flavor. I call it my "dessert mint". As for this recipe, I used my savory potted mint.

Use whatever kind of pasta speaks to you that day. I pulled a box of Gemelli from my lifetime supply, ha ha. 

I made this salad several times before I was satisfied. The right dressing, the right pasta, and surprisingly, the right lettuce really make this salad work.  The first time I made this, I made it with a white balsamic dressing.


The dressing should taste mostly like balsamic. My white balsamic dressing was too sour and the overly dijon-y flavor of it did not pair well with the strawberry or the gorgonzola cheese. As for the right pasta? I tried farfalle too, or bow-ties. I found I liked the curly pasta better. And finally, the lettuce. I tried romaine and felt it was far too hardy for this delicate salad. Mixed gourmet salad greens work much better. 

Another addition to this salad I really liked? Poppy seeds!

Oil and vinegar. A good shake emulsifies the dressing. You could also make the dressing in the food processor. 

I told y'all I've mostly been eating salads :-) Between you and me, this hardly feels like salad with all the tender pasta, the sweet strawberries, the creamy avocado and gorgonzola cheese... Yeah, this salad is just happiness to me. I can't wait to make it with my own strawberries! 

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Recipe adapted from: Diethood

Ingredients (serves 4):

8 ounces gemelli pasta, cooked to package directions (sub your favorite curly pasta, such as Rotini)
4 cups gourmet salad greens
10 ounces strawberries, halved
1 avocado, diced
1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 tbsp fresh mint, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp poppy seeds

Balsamic Dressing-
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon
2 garlic cloves

salt and pepper


1. In a large bowl, combine pasta, greens, strawberries, avocado, mint, parsley, and poppy seeds.
2. In a mason jar, combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, Dijon, and garlic. Shake to combine.
3. Drizzle dressing over salad. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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  1. Gemelli is one of my favorite pasta. Markets don't always have it so when I do find it I stock up. Your salad looks delicious.

    1. Gemelli is one of my favorite pastas too! I can never it around here, so I ordered 16 boxes off Amazon last year. LOL. My stockpile is still going strong, and I love not having to try to search for it. Thank goodness for Amazon! :-)

  2. That looks like happiness to me too! I would love this... my husband wouldn't touch it which just means more for me!! I am definitely making this and I'll make him and Jax some mac and cheese or something. Jax got stung by a bee yesterday too. Poor little guy was running out to get his rubber boots and must have stepped on one. I scraped the stinger out and the nervous mom in me waited for the allergic reaction. Luckily there was none and we were back to playing in a few minutes!

    1. I have so many things I make that the hubby won't touch! He's not as into pasta salad as I am, so I usually get those to myself. Can't say I complain! :-)

      I'm sorry to hear about Jax getting stung. Not fun for anyone!

      Have a great weekend Carlee!

  3. This salad looks perfectly delicious and very summer-y.

    1. Thank you Susie! I'll say this, I'll be making this a lot more this summer! A perfectly light dinner :-)

  4. Has Mariota recovered from the trauma? I am excited to see your Alpine Strawberries. I just learned of them very recently, and am intrigued. They sound like the most delicious strawberry ever!
    Your salad sounds out of this world delicious. Definitely putting it on the list to try while we have fresh berries :)

    1. He has somewhat recovered from the trauma. His leg is fine, it's his memory that's the problem now. He does not want to be outside. I'm glad to have one dog that's unmischievous, but I feel bad for him! Time is what he needs.

      Poor little dude :-)

  5. I keep meaning to get the kind of pasta you use - gemelli? Something like that. It makes this salad look so delicious!

    Your poor puppy - bee stings hurt but he will stay out of their way from now on which is good. You would hate for it to be multiple stings the first time possibly putting the doggie at risk!

    1. Yes, gemelli! I used to be able to find it in grocery stores around here, but no longer. I finally ordered a ton from Amazon, 16 boxes. It's one of my favorite pasta shapes, me and the texture are best friends :-) I recommend it if you can find some!

      And I totally agree! I'm very thankful there weren't multiple stings! Thank goodness!

      Have a great weekend Kelli!

  6. Poor Mariota...I'm glad he did not have an allergic reaction. I wish my Caesar would leave the bees alone, but he loves to eat them.

    YOur salad looks so good. Getting the right ratio and texture of things is always the key isn't it? :)

    1. My uncle used to have a dog that ate bees! I thought it was awesome when I was a kid, I need went outside without that dog when I was visiting. He was my protector :-) It was amazing he didn't get stung more! Hopefully Caesar doesn't get stung too often either.

      And yes, you are right! The right ratio and texture is EVERYTHING! :-)

      Have a great weekend Debbie!

  7. Your creations look delicious as always. I am sending Mariota well wishes for a speedy recovery! How is he now??

    1. Mariota is doing great! He got stung at about 9 am that morning, and he stayed off his leg until about 4 pm that day. After that, he put weight on his leg and made no bones about it. He's back to his normal puppy self :-)

      Hope you are having a great week Keith!


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