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Bow-tie pasta salad

Bow-tie pasta with baby spinach & cherry tomatoes (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
July 2, 2008

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Serves 8

To make this more substantial, add diced grilled chicken, sauteed portobello mushrooms, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, or pitted black olives. The asparagus spears are cooked in the same water with the bow-ties.

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, and more for the pasta water
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound bow-tie pasta
1 pound asparagus, ends snapped off, stalks peeled if thick, and cut in 2-inch pieces
1/2 pound imported feta, crumbled (to make 1 1/2 cups)
1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, 2 tablespoons of the mint, the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Set aside for at least 10 minutes or for up to 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes (or 2 minutes less than the suggested time on the package).

3. Without draining the pasta, add the asparagus and continue cooking for 2 minutes or until the spears and the pasta are tender, but not mushy. Tip the mixture into a colander, run it under cold water for a moment, shaking the colander, until the pasta and asparagus cool a bit. Shake the colander to remove the excess moisture.

4. Add the pasta and asparagus mixture with the feta to the tomato mixture. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of mint and toss well. Before serving, let the salad sit for 15 minutes for the flavors to meld. Or refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Tony Rosenfeld