If you were given the challenge to make an easy dish with one unlikely ingredient what would you make? I was recently working on a campaign with the Soy Vay brand and they encouraged us to make a simple dish with an unlikely combination of ingredients. This got my creative juices flowing but after much debate I decided to go with a Sweet and Sour Bow Tie Pasta salad. What makes this salad unique is the addition of fresh mandarins to it.
I must admit that I was not a big fan of sweet and sour dishes for a very long time until I had an amazing orange chicken dish at an Asian restaurant. Since then I have opened up more to the sweet and sour world.
I initially thought of adding sliced peaches but I scratched that idea because these are out of season and the ones I found at the store were flavorless and expensive. Pineapple is a popular sweet addition to savory dishes but I figured the fibrous texture and tartness may not go too well with the other ingredients. Mandarins were the next best choice as they complement spinach very well and offer a great flavor contrast to the other ingredients.
I know what you are thinking….this can’t possibly taste good, but let me tell you it really does!
Why bow tie pasta? I chose bow tie pasta because it’s flat surface can be easily picked up with a fork in a salad. Hoisin garlic sauce which has a strong salty and slightly sweet flavor provides the perfect contrast to the fresh mandarins. Green onions, carrots and red cabbage, fresh ginger all elevate the flavor of this salad and together they created a party of bold flavors.
A salad like this is best served for a light Saturday lunch or packed lunch for work on a weekday. It even tastes better the next day plus it’s easy, unique and very tasty!
If you are looking for a more traditional pasta salad you will love my Zesty Orzo and Veggie Salad.