Country Cooking for Summer – Marco Polo Pasta Salad
The calendar flipped to June and Laramie finally flipped away from the winter weather, so I decided to post a recipe for a pasta salad which is perfect for a picnic or barbecue. This Marco Polo salad originally came from a Dayton's cookbook which was purchased by the mom of one of my friends before Dayton's became Marshall Field's which was then bought by Macy's. Basically, the cookbook was golden and this is my attempt to make sure that at least some of its' greatness lives on!
So, without further ado, here are the ingredients needed for Marco Polo salad:
- 1 lb. bowtie pasta
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 to 3 bell peppers (color of your choice)
- 1 Tbsp. basil
- 1 Tbsp. oregano
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. coarse pepper
- 2/3 lb. Jarlsberg cheese (Swiss is a good cheap sub if you can't find or afford Jarlsberg)
- 3/4 cup half & half
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pecans (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley (optional)
Start off the cooking by boiling water and cooking the pasta. I usually throw some salt in the water to flavor the pasta while it cooks. In Laramie it takes about 12 or 13 minutes to cook the pound of pasta al denta.
While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, it's time to get to chopping. I usually start with the cheese and cut it julienne.
Next I chop the peppers julienne, I found three small bell peppers at the store for this salad. Late in the summer, fresh bell peppers from the garden are the best. If you don't have a garden, the Laramie Farmer's Market starts in July and you can always find good produce there.
Around this time, the pasta is usually finished, so i drain it and let it sit in the sink while I mix together the 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 2 Tbsp. basil, 2 Tbsp. oregano, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. As you can see I prefer to do this in a very large bowl.
Now I move the pasta back into it's pot and toss it with a little bit of olive oil. Then I whisk half and half in with the ingredients in the large bowl.
When it's good and mixed you can toss in the pasta.
The Jarlsberg cheese and bell peppers are next.
Finally throw in the 1/2 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 cup of pecans and 1/2 cup of chopped parsley. I'm not the biggest fan of parsley, so I just add Parmesan and chopped pecans.
Cover and refridgerate, overnight if possible, or at least 4 hours. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!