Every year, at the beginning of school, my life is hectic. I'm scrambling with school supplies, trying to get lunches packed and desperately rushing to get kids to school on time. I have three kids so it's crazy.
However, I always remember the teachers, because even though I have 3 kids and it's nutty, they have more than 20 in their classroom. It's exponentially nuttier. Every year, within the first couple of days of school, I like to bring the teachers a little bit of something special and homemade for lunch. I like for them to eat a meal that they aren't stressed about and hope through this small gesture they find some respite from the general craziness of their day. This year I decided to create a new salad using some pantry and refrigerator staples in the hopes that they would find it delicious AND easy to recreate at home.
It was a huge hit, and looks great individually packaged. The teacher's face when you give them a ready-made meal - priceless.
Step 1: Spinach, Feta, Roasted Bell Peppers Pasta Salad
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 pound penne, or your choice of pasta salad shape (Bear in mind that baby spinach takes up some space, so you want a shape that isn’t too small that will get overwhelmed)
6 oz bag, baby spinach
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 cup chopped fresh basil
12 oz jar (drained about 7 to 8 ounces) roasted red pepper (Trader Joes has a very lovely one)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (or pine nuts if you prefer)
Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
Bring water to boil in pot. Salt water and cook pasta according to package directions. Wash and drain pasta.
Mix together spinach, feta, red onion, basil, roasted red peppers, pasta. . Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Add almonds; toss. Serve at room temperature.