The history of this salad is embedded in our travels back and forth from California to Nebraska. When we first bought our little cabin on the prairie, we would drive back and forth 2 or 3 times a year (3 days on the road) to spend a few weeks working on the place. Why drive, you ask? Well, we had our dog, Mowgli, who, if you were to ask him, would vehemently deny his doghood. He would most likely insist on his personhood, owing mostly to his relationship with The Husband, which is another story altogether. Those of you who know are laughing right now.
But I digress. Because of our furry traveling companion, who was not about to be left behind, we drove across the country, staying in hotels/motels that accommodated pets. There are actually quite a few that do that now. And more often than not, we found hotels where I could have a kitchen and cook our meals. I'm not partial to eating out on the road as most of one's choices consist of fast food and questionable chains serving "fast casual", but that’s another story too. Please don’t think me weird, but I would travel with a cooler, and in it would always be the necessary condiments such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, stuff like that to throw together a meal when possible.
Man, this is a long story….but in one such hotel in Boulder, Colorado, after a long day on the road, we stopped at Whole foods there and bought fresh salmon and the makings for a nice salad. I believe I already had feta cheese and kalamata olives in the cooler (remember how I asked you not to think me weird?). With these beautiful, fresh ingredients, I put together this salmon salad and we loved it. Accompanied by a fresh loaf of bread and a glass of wine, we dined like kings that night.
So that’s the story of this salmon salad that still reminds me of that beautiful dinner we had that night in Boulder. Those of you who have traveled by car for long distances know how wonderful it is to eat fresh, lovely food at the end of a long drive.
Mowgli is no longer with us, but we continue to travel back and forth to California on a regular basis, although it is now by plane. I must say that sometimes I miss those trips and our furry little dog kid. But I still make this salad whenever I have leftovers from roasting salmon, or sometimes I’ll cook up salmon just to make this salad. It’s that good.
¾ lb cooked salmon
½ lb campanelle or penne pasta
½ cup feta cheese
½ cup kalamata olives, halved
Large bowl of salad greens, a mixture of crisp romaine and leafy greens works best
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette (3 to 1 ratio of olive oil to balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper)
Cook the pasta, drain and while still hot, combine with ¼ cup of the balsamic vinaigrette. Set aside to cool.
Combine the salad greens, olives, tomatoes, avocado, and the remaining balsamic vinaigrette. Crumble the salmon (medium-large chunks) into the greens and then mix in the cooled pasta. Mix well and then crumble the feta cheese over the top and serve.