When I worked in Mountain View, one of my favorite lunch places was Frankie, Johnny, and Luigi's. My work BFF, Christian, and I would go there all the time for the delicious Warm Pasta Salad. It was the perfect lunch. Years later, Christian became a city-dweller and I now work from home. I've never made it back to our favorite spot (besides it just wouldn't feel right being there with Christian downing four Iced Teas and gnoshing on the best bread in the South Bay). Instead, I've turned the meal into inspiration for one of my own meals.
The original recipe calls for bacon in the salad. But I'm not a huge fan of bacon, so I always omit it. If you are a bacon lover, rough chop 3-4 pieces of cooked bacon in with the salad. I served tri-tip steak on top; not that it needs it, but it just had to be cooked y'all. If you omit the meat and/or bacon, you have a complete vegetarian meal. And spinach is a super-food, so you can give yourself an extra pat on the back.
Warm Pasta Salad (serves 4-6)
- 1 bag of baby spinach, washed
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 2-4 ounces of good gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
- 1 box of your favorite pasta (I used mostaccoli because it was in our cupboard)
While your pasta is boiling, add the onion and red pepper with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil in a medium sized skillet over med heat. Cook until softened, salt/pepper to taste, and then set aside. In a large bowl, add your spinach, gorgonzola, and bacon (if using). When the pasta is tender to your liking, give the pasta a quick rinse in the sink to remove some of the starch that makes it stick together. Drain thoroughly and then add to your bowl with the spinach. Pour your onion pepper mixture on top and toss the salad. Enjoy!
The salad is just as good cold and would make the best potluck addition (without breaking the bank or taking up too much time).
NOTE: It is important to salt your pasta water before you add your pasta. Otherwise, you'll end up with a bland salad.