Pasta Salad

Two of my favorite California wines are from the same valley in the Santa Barbara Wine Region. Both Beckman and Stolpman Vineyards are located in the Ballard Canyon, just west of Solvang, CA. They both grow several grapes, almost entirely of the Rhone style. Beckman has just started to sell there incredibly lovely Grenache Rosé in stores. It used to be only available at the winery.

The reason that I bring these two vineyards up is not to hawk their wine (although you would do well to buy anything grown by either) but because they do something that most people never hear about. They both grow all of their grapes organically (Beckman is actually bio-dynamic) and don’t print it on the label. The reasons may be many and varied, but I can tell you one of the reasons is  that they don’t want their workers and themselves exposed to harmful chemicals. They know that it is not good for their people and not good for the environment.

This is not a joke, kids. There have been many reports recently about the sudden loss of bees. The main contributing factor of bee loss is pesticides and herbicides. And this is VERY recent. The bee population started to decrease in a major way just 6 years ago. If the bees die off so do we. Simple as that. They pollinate our food. No pollination, no food. Done. Check, please!

Pay more if you have to, but you and I need to make this a priority. Demand organic. Insist.

Here is a pasta salad that I have made so many times that I may leave something out, but it will still be good.

Serves a big party

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. Orso or Riso Pasta
  • 6 Oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled (more if desired)
  • Quart Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2-1 Red Onion, diced
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, diced
  • 1 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, diced
  • 1 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers (optional)
  • Large Handful of Fresh Basil, chiffonade
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Pot for Pasta
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Serving Platter or Bowl
  1. Boil a large pot of salted water.
  2. Cook the pasta to al dente and let cool.
  3. Combine the pasta with all of the other ingredients and toss with your hands.
  4. Add a spritz or two of vinegar and a good amount of olive oil and taste for balance.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Optionally cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. 
  7. Let it get to room temperature before serving.
Be careful with the red onion. They have a wide range of pungency and need to be used accordingly. They can so easily take over the dish.
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