CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Broccoli Pasta Salad

Salads are for summertime — especially if you have a garden. There’s nothing like a bunch of fresh veggies from the garden — all tossed together in a bowl and seasoned with a homemade vinaigrette — to start off a meal.

With a nice crop of lettuce and kale in our garden, we’ve been enjoying fresh salads for going on three months now. And with the tomatoes just starting to ripen, the salads are only going to get better.

But there is more to salads than the greens. Take, for example, the following broccoli salad recipe, which has many variations, and is a favorite of ours in the summer.

We usually have three or four broccoli plants in the garden, which keep on producing right up until freeze-up. This summer, however, baby bunnies raised havoc with the plants, and we have only two out of four remaining, and they have been stunted by the “Wascally Wabbits,” as cartoon character Elmer Fudd used to call Bugs Bunny and his ilk.

The hasn’t stopped Therese from making the broccoli salad, though. I just finished the last of her most recent batch, all the while wishing there was more.

I guess I’ll have to settle for more garden green salads instead.

Broccoli Pasta Salad
2 cups broccoli, broken into bite-size pieces
4 ounces feta cheese
2 cups uncooked rotini pasta
½ cup black olives, chopped
1 7½-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 16-ounce bottle Italian dressing (can use fat-free)
Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool. Mix in large bowl with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate overnight.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Broccoli Pasta Salad

Broccoli is one of those garden vegetables that keeps on giving. After the first cutting of a large center head, the plant will produce smaller side heads for several weeks.

And for those like me who enjoy a good broccoli salad, that’s dandy.

Just yesterday, I was able to harvest several smaller heads on my four plants, which Therese used to make one of my summer garden favorites, her Broccoli Pasta Salad. The salad is comprised of broccoli, artichoke hearts, ripe olives, rotini and feta cheese that is marinated in Zesty Italian Dressing.

Another nice thing about this salad is that it gets tastier the longer it sits.

And because of that, I’ll give it an A.

Broccoli Pasta Salad
1 large bunch broccoli, including stalks, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 16-ounce jar Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 13.75-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts in brine
1 3.8-ounce can sliced pitted ripe olives, drained
½ cup (more or less to taste) of crumbled feta cheese
12 ounces cooked rotini
Mix all of ingredients and marinate overnight.
Note: For those who have broccoli growing in gardens, second, third and fourth cuttings should be done when the heads are small, tight and firm. If flower buds appear, it should be cut immediately. Once the yellow flowers open, broccoli becomes bitter.