This was basically a throw together salad to use some of our pickled beets and pickled asparagus. My daughter picked up the pickled asparagus at Thorp Fruit and Antique Mall in Ellensburg, WA. It’s a huge, wonderful place with fresh seasonal fruit on the first floor as well as locally made products like jams, BBQ sauce, vinegars, etc.
On the second and third floor there is an antique mall of all things. Tons of little cubicles with all sorts of wonderful old junk to sift through. It is always so fascinating to me to go through these little stalls and get a glimpse of times gone by. Yeah, you’re going to come across some junk and maybe some stuff that wouldn’t or shouldn’t be considered antique. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So even if I thought something was junk doesn’t mean the person coming in behind me might feel the same. I usually gravitate towards the old books and kitchen stuff. I’m usually on the look out for interesting cookbooks and I just like looking at all of the old gadgets. I didn’t pick anything up this time though other than fresh Rainier cherries and some local salad dressings made from Walla Walla onions.
My daughter picked up some pickled asparagus and wanted to try it in a salad. We also had some pickled beets from MM Local left one of my CSA boxes several weeks ago and thought a combination of the pickled veggies would be interesting if nothing else. At first I thought about throwing them in a green leaf salad with a few fresh veggies. But then the question was, what type of dressing should we use that would go good with the pickled veggies. So I did what I always do, I “Googled it” to find some different recipe ideas. Nothing really stood out, but one common theme was to use a mayonnaise based dressing. At first I was going to use a vinaigrette, but after thinking about it I thought that was a rather silly move. Vinegar on top of more vinegar? Yeah, not so much. The mayonnaise based dressing would at least smooth out the strong vinegar taste of the asparagus and beets. I could have eaten the whole jar of beets just as they were. There wasn’t too much vinegar and the flavor of the beets really came through. The asparagus, well it was ok for one bite, but after that be prepared to pucker up baby because they used a lot of vinegar. Whew!
I also decided to use pasta for the salad because I thought it would stand up better with the veggies than any sort of lettuce. Then I looked through the fridge to see what other veggies I had that I could add. I ended up using cucumber, red onion and grape tomatoes. The dressing was a simple one that I use as a base for my potato and macaroni salads. My daughter loved it and has requested that I make it again. I might just rinse off the asparagus the next time and not use quite so much. It was really good, but the vinegar from the asparagus really over powered everything else. For this recipe I honestly didn’t take any measurements, I just tossed in what looked good so please keep in mind these amounts are all approximations and you can add or leave out what you want.
Pasta Salad with Pickled Beets and Asparagus
2 cups shell macaroni, uncooked
1 cucumber, cut into 1/2 quarters
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup pickled beets, cut into bite sized chunks
8-10 spears pickled asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
For the Dressing:
1 to 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise or salad dressing (depends on how much dressing you like)
1 Tbls prepared horseradish sauce
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk (depending on how thick you like your dressing, I like it a bit thin)
1 tsp vinegar
1 Tbls sugar
1 – 2 tsp dried dillweed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Once pasta is cooked immediately drain and run under cold water to cool down.
Toss pasta and cut vegetables in large bowl. In a small bowl mix the dressing ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Add more mayonnaise and milk as necessary. Taste to adjust for vinegar, sugar and other seasonings as well. Remember this is just a basic guide, you can add more or less of any of these ingredients depending on the tastes of you and your family.
Toss dressing with pasta and veggies. The salad can be eaten immediately or chilled at least an hour before serving.