Pasta salad – perfect side dish for Braai Heritage Day 2010

I cannot believe it is Braai Heritage day again and that it is a year since I last wrote this post. Time flies when you’re having fun and this has certainly been a busy and exciting year. Here in South Africa, having a braai is a serious matter and we will find a good enough reason to have one with friends and family often.
The word “braai” (pronounced – Afrikaans pronunciation: [ˈbrɑe.flæɪs], English: /ˈbraɪfleɪs/) is Afrikaans for barbecue, grilling, outdoor roasting generally cooking that is done on an open fire.
Braai Heritage Day has become a yearly event and it happens on Heritage day when South Africans are encouraged to gather around an open fire and to share their colorful heritage.  The man behind the idea is Jan Braai and on Thursday 16 September 2010 he showed just how committed he is to this idea by breaking the Guinness World record for the longest braai ever held. He braaied non-stop for 28 hours and 30 minutes.

Another South African that is passionate about her braai heritage is our own Cooksister. We are proud of you Jeanne for flying the South African flag so high there in London! She is hosting an event, Braai, the Beloved Country, and we are all called to share our favorite braai recipes.  I think last year I posted enough meat recipes to get us through a couple more of these events, so this year I want to focus on a delicious pasta salad that is a perfect partner for grilled fish, grilled chicken, lamb or beef. This easy pasta salad can also stand boldly on it’s own as a vegetarian meal, but for now let’s just treat it as a side salad.

The secret to this pasta salad is the Mushroom pesto that made earlier today.  I used portebelinis and shiitake mushrooms, but I am sure you can also use buttons or even portebello or porcinis.

For the Mushroom Pesto

250gr Mushrooms – wiped clean with a damp towel
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 big handfuls of fresh basil
2 big cloves of garlic
zest and juice of a lemon
about 50 g  blanched almonds
100gr grated Parmesan cheese
about 125-175ml olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they are cooked but not watery and soggy. Cool completely. Place all the ingredients, including the mushrooms, into a blender and  blitz until it is the desired consistency. While the machine is running add the olive oil until it has a slightly chunky, but creamy consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. Now let’s make the salad.

Pasta Salad

500gr pasta shells
½ green pepper – finely chopped
½ red pepper – finely chopped
½ yellow pepper – finely chopped
2 baby marrows – cut in small cubes
250gr cocktail tomatoes – halved
2 big handfuls of parsley – chopped
salt/ pepper
all the mushroom pesto
fresh basil for serving

Get a big pot of water to boil and cook the pasta according to instructions on the packet. Cool the pasta. Mix all the other ingredients together. When pasta has cooled down completely, add the pasta to the other ingredients and mix through. Adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve  in a beautiful salad bowl  with some torn basil or dish up individual servings in sterilized jars if you are going on a picnic. We enjoyed this delicious pasta salad with Spicy Spatchcock Chicken, potatoes and wonderful company. Do join us for Braai Heritage Day or this fun event hosted by Jeanne!

As you all know by now, the SA Blog Award Finalists have been announced and the two ladies in the Food and Wine Category is none other than Jeanne from Cooksister and Ally Simply Delicious.
Well done girls, I am so proud of you!. To everyone who voted for me, thank you, thank you, thank you! . I am so grateful for all your support.