Friday, May 21, 2010

Easy Pasta Salad

Is there really such a thing as a difficult pasta salad? I actually thought twice about posting this one, because it's so easy, but then I figured that not everyone is an experienced cook, so I figured it's worth a post. This salad is a nice accompaniment to any summer meal. We're serving it with barbecued beef sandwiches (and ham, and guacamole, and taco dip, and....) for Kyle's graduation party.

Pasta of your choice (I used rotini this time, but you can use any kind, including spaghetti.)
Veggies of your choice (cukes, Vidalia onion, celery, green pepper, red pepper, tiny tomatoes)
Cheese (optional) Note that I didn't think to add mine til after I took the photo
Olives (optional) I actually changed my mind and left these out (Mr.4444 said, "People hate green olives."
1 bottle of Italian dressing
1 bottle McCormick Suddenly Salad seasoning (not pictured)
pepperoni (optional)
shredded Parmesan (for guests to sprinkle on top)

(Note:  Although this recipe lists the ingredients for one batch, I actually doubled it, so you'll see a lot more at the end of the post.)

While you're cooking the pasta per box directions, dice your vegetables. (Of course, I washed that dirty celery!)  I took the next photo to show you one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools. You know how you get invited to Pampered Chef parties but hate to go for fear you'll spend too much?  Well, I highly recommend that you buy one of these babies, as it is worth it's weight in gold (about $10).

I've had mine for about ten years, and it will still take a finger off if you're not careful. When we're peeling potatoes for booyah, I can peel at least three times as fast as anyone with a old-fashioned peeler (and I don't have the waste I get with a knife.) But I digress, just like I did when I became enamored with this gorgeous red pepper and took this shot...

And now, back to the show!  When the pasta is done, be sure to rinse it in cold water (in a colander, Matty) right away (it stops the cooking and keeps it from getting mushy). Drain thoroughly and put in a large bowl. Add the vegetables, and pour the dressing over all.

Stir. Add salt and pepper if you want.  Chill for several hours, and don't be afraid to stir now and then to mix the dressing through.

 Off to make another dish for the party!!

[Update: Today, when I tasted the salad before serving it, I decided it needed something (it was a little too tame. My sister Mary brought some sliced pepperoni to add, and we also added a bunch of McCormick Suddenly Salad seasoning and some more Italian dressing.  That gave it the kick it needed.]

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