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Smoked Penne and Gruyere Salad with Parsley Parmesan Dressing

Smoked Gruyere and Penne Salad with Parsley Parmesan Dressing

serves 4-6

The Parsley Parmesan Dressing

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 chopped parsley (about one fresh bunch)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and freshly grated pepper, to taste

The Salad

1/2 pound penne pasta

1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced

2 cups packed baby spinach, washed and stemmed (optional)

1/2 pound smoked Gruyere cheese (or mozzarella), diced

To prepare the dressing:

Combine Parmesan cheese, parsley, mayonnaise, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  (A blender works well, too.)  Process until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.

To prepare the salad:

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until it is al dente (i.e. no longer hard, but also not mushy). Drain the pasta into a colander, run cold water over it or submerge it in ice water until chilled through, and drain well.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, spinach (if using), roasted red peppers, and smoked Gruyere.

Toss salad with the dressing.  Serve immediately.

Note:  You can make the salad up to 2 days in advance.  Just add the spinach and dressing before serving.

Adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook