Crunchy Autumn Pasta Salad: A simple pasta and spinach salad with sour apples, crispy celery, toasted nuts, sweet dried cranberries and juicy oranges. This salad is dressed with a simple poppy seed vinaigrette.
5 ounces of fresh spinach half a 10-ounce bag (6 cups; 140g)
1 and 1/2 cups (150g) of small dry pasta
3/4 cup (87g) chopped celery
A large Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced or diced
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 can (15 ounces; 425 g) drained mandarin orange (or 2 tangerines)
3/4 cup (91g) dried cranberries
1/3 cup (41g) walnuts, coarsely chopped (See Note 1)
Optional: Feta cheese
2 tablespoons EACH: apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar
2-4 tablespoons of white sugar
1/8 teaspoon each: paprika and onion powder
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of poppy seeds
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
PASTA COOKING: Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package al dente. Be sure to generously salt the water; this is what will really season the pasta! Add a teaspoon of salt to every 4 cups of water.
DRESSING: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a masonry jar combine apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, sugar, (adjust — more or less to your personal preference, I use 2 tablespoons), paprika, onion powder, olive oil, poppy seeds, and salt and pepper (add 1/4 teaspoon each). Seal the jar and shake vigorously to combine.
FINISHING PASTA: Drain the pasta once it is cooked and immediately mix a few spoonfuls of the dressing with the pasta. Cool the seasoned paste in the refrigerator.
THE REMAINING INGREDIENTS: Meanwhile, prepare the other aggregates: cut the celery in thin slices, cut the apple in thin slices (or in pieces) and mix it with the lemon juice, and peel the oranges or drain them from the can.
ASSEMBLY: In a very large bowl, mix the completely cooled pasta with the spinach. Add the celery, apple, oranges, dried cranberries and chopped nuts. Sprinkle dressing over salad and mix to combine. Add the feta cheese to your personal taste and enjoy immediately.
STORAGE: This salad is not a big surplus. If you do not eat it immediately, keep the ingredients separate from the dressing and only mix it with the dressing just before eating. Cover with nuts and feta cheese after dressing.
Note 1: If desired, roast the nuts. Let them cool completely and then cut them into pieces before adding them to the salad.
To roast walnuts: If you want to roast the walnuts, put them in a single layer in a dry pan (do not add anything) over medium heat. Stir constantly until the nuts are barely fragrant… just a couple of minutes. Watch carefully as the nuts are VERY easy to burn.