Does anyone else feel compelled to feed people? Aside from my obvious need to share pictures of what I eat on the internet, I just want to shove my food in people’s faces. It’s to the extreme that I don’t feel right showing up anywhere without food in my hands. If people are coming to my house, it’s even worse. “Oh hey Kelly, I brought this side dish” — oh that’s cool, I have all 4 eating surfaces sufficiently covered in finger foods, desserts, cocktails, and dips (let’s not even talk about the actual dinner), but go ahead and make space. Last weekend, I agreed to let my friend Emily throw her husband a graduation party at my house. We were wrapping up our paver patio (whyyyy is it taking so long?) and I wanted to show it off, but Josh had one stipulation: that I let Emily actually do the planning, the food making, everything. I could clean the house, drag out chairs for a bonfire, but that’s pretty much it. I’m happy to say that I reigned myself in pretty well. I still made a big batch of a mixed drink to share and at the last minute I decided to throw together this pasta salad. So glad I did, because it’s the best pasta salad I’ve ever had. The secret in this bad boy? Yogurt. I love the tang! I actually added a little bit of sweetness from agave to make it mildly reminiscent of mayo and not freak people out. Then I added the flavors of Italian dressing and Ranch dressing to make it absolutely irresistible. Oh, plus veggies. So many veggies. Because I didn’t originally plan on making pasta salad, I grabbed a bottle of organic Tuscan Italian salad dressing at the store to use. If that bothers you or if you have the time, homemade would work just as well.
Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain (see note).
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk the yogurt, Italian dressing, Ranch powder, and agave until smooth.
Chop the vegetables into bite size pieces.
Toss the pasta, veggies, and feta together in a serving bowl. Drizzle half of the dressing on top, tossing to coat. Add more dressing, based on preferences (I use it all).
This is best after it’s sat for at least an hour, but you can serve immediately. Keeps well in the fridge for several days.
Nutritional estimate is based on using whole wheat pasta and all of the dressing. Makes approximately 16 1-cup servings. Makes 8 reasonable sized servings as a main dish (~2c). The serving size varies based on the size of your veggies + your type of pasta. Gluten free pasta does not always plump as much, so the serving size may be slightly smaller — I recommend adding extra broccoli or peppers to bulk it up. If you prefer your veggies a little less raw, put the chopped broccoli and peppers in a colander. When you drain the pasta, pour the hot water and pasta directly over the vegetables. Let the hot noodles sit on top of the veggies for a few minutes and you’ll away a little of the raw crunch from the veggies.